Shahid Afridi tried to put into perspective what he said at the toss on Tuesday, “If you are strong enough, the toss won’t matter.” The Pakistan skipper scored a brutal century (109 off 76 balls), refused to wilt under the cramps that made batting virtually impossible, but finally failed to take his team beyond the finish line. The visitors went down fighting in their 2010 Asia Cup opener losing to Sri Lanka by 16 runs.
Afridi walked in at the fall of debutant Shazaib Hussain, but more than pushing the momentum, he was forced to rebuild the innings having lost four wickets within 15 overs.
Lasith Malinga was the wreaker in chief picking up five wickets in a vitriolic bowling attack. He began with a curling delivery that uprooted Salman Butt’s stumps in the second over. The Pakistan batsmen struggled against the Lankan seamers and it became a personal contest of sorts between Nuwan Kulasekara and Malinga. The slinger got his second when another debutant, Umar Amin, sent a steepling top-edge to Kumar Sangakkara. Shoaib Malik failed to make his comeback memorable and left after scoring a measly eight from fourteen deliveries.
Earlier, Mahela Jayawardene and Kumar Sangakkara added 83 runs for the third wicket after Shoaib Akhtar and Mohammad Asif removed their openers early. Jayawardene played a patient knock to notch his 53rd ODI fifty but succumbed to a leg-before appeal off a Shoaib Malik delivery. But the young Angelo Mathews scored an unbeaten 55 to take Sri Lanka to 242.
Pakistan’s Shoaib Akhtar made a memorable comeback picking up three wickets in his first match after a year in exile.