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Akhtar sparks Pakistan's 79-run win over SL

Pace spearhead Shoaib Akhtar sparked Pakistan's 79-run victory over Sri Lanka in the opening match the Bank Alfalah tri-series.

india Updated: May 10, 2003 17:56 IST

Pace spearhead Shoaib Akhtar sparked Pakistan's 79-run victory over Sri Lanka in the opening match of a cricket tri-series Saturday.

Akhtar ripped open the Sri Lankan top order with an incisive burst as the home team faltered in its chase of a modest target.

Replying to Pakistan's moderate score of 199 for eight from 50 overs, which featured a fighting half-century from opener Mohammad Hafeez, Sri Lanka was bowled out for 120 in 43.1 overs after Akhtar dismissed attacking batsman Sanath Jayasuriya for a first-ball duck in the opening over.

Warned last month by Pakistan Cricket Board Chairman Tauqir Zia that it was his last chance to revive his career, Akhtar responded in resounding fashion to help Pakistan's rally after a disappointing batting performance.

Akhtar provided Pakistan its first glimmer of hope when he had Jayasuriya, flashing at a rising delivery outside the off-stump, caught by second-slip Younis Khan. Khan leapt high to snap the catch.

Akhtar repeatedly beat Sri Lankan skipper Marvan Atapattu outside the off-stump during his 61-run second-wicket partnership with Kumar Sangakkara, but it was medium-pacer Abdur Razzaq who dislodged him by trapping him leg before with an inseaming delivery.

Sri Lanka's new one-day captain, who got the job after Jayasuriya's resignation last month, got the doctor's approval to play in this game Saturday morning after recovering from concussion and an ankle injury suffered during a mid-pitch collision with New Zealander Daniel Vettori in a test match Monday.

Atapattu struck three boundaries in his 77-ball 26, but the Sri Lankan innings fell apart after his dismissal.

Akhtar effected a crucial blow when he had Sangakkara caught by Shoaib Malik at backward point. Sangakkara top-scored with a 57-ball 29 that contained three hits to the fence.

Vice-captain Mahela Jayawardene (22) kept Sri Lanka alive until he was out lbw to pace bowler Mohammad Sami.

Sri Lanka was as good as beaten after Jayawardene and Romesh Kaluwitharana perished in successive overs, sparking a collapse that saw the last seven wickets perish in the space of 22 runs.

Kaluwitharana perished for zero, turning offspinner Shoaib Malik into the hands of Younis Khan at square-leg. Malik finished with two victims for 23 runs, while pacer Mohammad Sami got two for 19.

The Pakistan innings revolved around a patient 53 from Hafeez, who posted his second half-century in five one-dayers but saw wickets tumble at the other end.

Hafeez, who was the sixth batsman out, struck two boundaries from 114 deliveries before being caught by mid-on Sangakkara off left-arm spinner Jayasuriya.

Put in to bat first after Atapattu won the toss, Pakistan slumped from a steady start as ace offspinner Muttiah Muralitharan claimed three wickets for 38 runs.

Losing opening partner Taufeeq Omar for nine in the eighth over, Hafeeq and Faisal Iqbal added 48 runs for the second wicket before Muralitharan came on to break the partnership in his second over.

Muralitharan elicited an edge from Iqbal and Jayawardene dived to his left to bring off a fine catch, ending Iqbal's 65-ball knock of 21.

Muralitharan went on to dismiss Khan (29) and Rashid Latif (14). Latif was stumped by Kaluwitharana, making him the seventh wicketkeeper in to claim 200 victims in one-day internationals.

Fielding a new-look side after making large-scale changes in the wake of its disastrous World Cup performance, Pakistan came into this series with a title win in last month's Sharjah Cup.

New Zealand is the third team in the triangular series, which involves a double-leg preliminary league followed by a title showdown between the top two sides.


First Published: May 10, 2003 09:53 IST