Sri Lanka taste victory at Dubai
Royal Challengers Bangalore batsman and Sri Lanka skipper Tillakaratne Dilshan’s month long wait for a win on the tour of UAE against Pakistan finally ended on Monday night when Sri Lanka beat Pakistan by 26 runs in the second ODI at the Dubai International Cricket Stadium in Dubai.
Sri Lanka’s win was their first in 3 Tests and 2 ODIs and it helped them level the ODI series at 1-1. They had narrowly drawn the first Test, crashed to a defeat in the second Test and failed to force a result in the third Test, conceding the series 1-0 to Pakistan
Tillkaratne Dilshan had had a hard time so far in the series, failing with the bat and with the captaincy, worsening SL’s collective batting failure with his only half century of the tour coming in the first innings of the drawn third Test.
He failed again to make a large contribution with the bat on Monday but in retrospect, his 28 and the ultimate margin of victory made his knock a substantial one. Sri Lanka had collapsed to 131 all out in the first ODI and conceded the total in just 22 overs but they were a much improved unit on Monday.
They began by winning a crucial toss, Dilshan opting to bat first. Dilshan’s 28 came in a blitz but Pak struck regularly. The steady fall of wickets at one end was however offset by the solidity that Upul Tharanga provided at the other end. His partnership with Mahela Jayawardene and Jayawardene’s partnerships along with the lower order towards the end was crucial as Sri Lanka posted a challenging 237/5 in their 50 overs. Shahid Afridi had been the destructor-in-chief, choking them by only conceding 35 runs in his 10 overs for the 2 important wickets of Dilshan and Tharanga while Saeed Ajmal collected 3 for a very expensive 61.
Sri Lanka made a dream start to their defence of the total when Lasith Malinga removed Mohammad Hafeez and Younis Khan in the very first over to reduce Pakistan to 4/2. Umar Akmal carried Pakistan ahead even as Imran Farhat, Misbah ul Haq and Abdul Razzaq arrived and departed, none managing any decent partnership.
Umar Akmal kept Pakistan in the game during a 62 run stand with Sarfraz Ahmed for the 6th wicket he was dismissed just when he launched an offensive against Dilhara Fernando, hitting three consecutive 4s and holing out to mid on while trying to go for a fourth consecutive 4, the score 164/6 in the 37th over with 70 required off 72 balls.
The presence of Shahid Afridi in the middle however meant that Pakistan were still within touching distance of Sri Lanka’s total and the man known as Boom Boom was threatening to take them home with his offensive against J Mendis. With 37 required off 40, he responded to Ajmal’s call for a cheeky single, fatally taking on Dilshan’s arm and eye. Running in from backward point, the Sri Lankan skipper and RCB batsman took aim at the one stump in his line of vision and hit the stumps to catch Afridi mere centimeters short of the crease. Pakistan were 199/9 and their challenge was as good as over. Malinga and Perera hurried Pakistan’s end before Sangakkara’s direct hit removed Aizaz Cheema at the non striker’s end, dismissing them for 210 and giving Sri Lanka a much needed win.
Cornered, Dilshan had led the Sri Lankan team to a series levelling victory in the second ODI, a rallying win where the entire team contributed with 3 run outs and countless runs saved on the field. He will be hoping to carry forward this momentum into the next match, capitalizing on the start they’ve finally got. It’s something Sri Lanka and the team needed from him as a Captain, another successful run in International cricket.