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Afridi smashes ton but Sri Lanka edge Pakistan

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Posted by on Wednesday, June 16, 2010, 12:41
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DAMBULLA, Sri Lanka: Pakistan captain Shahid Afridi’s stunning century was in vain as Sri Lanka claimed a 16-run win on Tuesday in the opening match of the Asia Cup.

After the Sri Lankans had made a competitive 242-9 from their 50 overs, Pakistan’s top order imploded to leave Afridi the difficult task of guiding his team home.

Afridi smashes ton but Sri Lanka edge Pakistan

Afridi smashes ton but Sri Lanka edge Pakistan

The allrounder fought off the effects of cramp — which forced him to limp for his runs — to make 109 off 76 balls before he was snared by offspinner Muttiah Muralitharan, who struggled to contain the inspired Afridi throughout his innings.

Lasith Malinga then cleaned up the tail to finish with figures of 5-34 off his 10 overs, with Pakistan falling just short of the victory target. It was the seamer’s maiden five-wicket haul.

Malinga gave the host the ideal start by bowling opener Sulman Butt (0) with an inswinger on the ninth delivery of the day.

Unrelenting pressure by the Sri Lankan seamers saw three more wickets go down — Shahzaib Hasan (11), Umar Amin (7) and Shoaib Malik (8) — to leave Pakistan on 32-4.

Afridi came to the crease and started the counterattack with two consecutive sixes off seam bowler Farveez Maharoof. Afridi and Umar Akmal (30) shared a 73-run partnership to raise the team’s hopes.

Afridi was particularly severe on Muralitharan, hitting him for five of his seven sixes, while he also hit eight fours in a sublime knock.

Muralitharan, the world’s most prolific wicket-taker, went for 71 runs in his 10 overs but did take the prized scalp of Afridi.

Afridi fell to the ground after playing some of his shots and the team’s medical staff had to attend to him at least three times on the field. Strangely, though, a runner was not used and it was not immediately clear if a request was denied by the umpires or the opposing captain.

After the departure of Afridi, Malinga wrapped up the innings by bowling Mohammad Aamer (5) and Mohammad Asif (0), and also had Shoaib Akhtar (1) caught.

Earlier, Akhtar celebrated his return to international cricket with 3-41 to help restrict Sri Lanka, who had good knocks from Angelo Mathews (55 not out) and former captain Mahela Jayawardene (54).

Sri Lanka captain Kumar Sangakkara’s decision to bat first in the day-night encounter at Rangiri Dambulla Stadium paid off when his openers Tillakaratne Dilshan (18) and Upul Tharanga (11) got off to a promising start.

Akhtar, playing his first match for Pakistan in 13 months after injuries, then intervened to reduce the Sri Lankans to 36-2.

Sangakkara (42 from 63 balls) and Jayawardene salvaged the innings with a sensible 83-run partnership for the third wicket, off 103 balls.

Jayawardene was given out lbw but television replays showed the ball hit the bat before hitting his pads. His 53rd limited-overs half-century included three boundaries.

Jayawardene’s dismissal made it 150-4 and triggered a mini-collapse, Sri Lanka losing four wickets for 18 runs.

Mathews joined tailender Nuwan Kulasekara (14) and repaired the innings with a 43-run partnership. He faced 61 balls and hit four boundaries.

Sri Lanka is looking for a third consecutive Asia Cup title, having won the previous two editions — in 2004 and 2008. Pakistan was last crowned Asian champion a decade ago.

India and Bangladesh are the other teams participating in the tournament. -AP

Scores: Sri Lanka 242-9 in 50 overs (M. Jayawardene 54, A. Mathews 55 not out; Shoaib Akhtar 3-41) v Pakistan 226 all out in 47 overs (S. Afridi 109; L. Malinga 5-34)

Pakistan: Shahid Afridi (capt), Salman Butt, Shahzaib Hasan, Umar Akmal, Shoaib Malik, Umar Amin, Kamran Akmal, Abdul Razzaq, Mohammad Asif, Mohammad Aamer, Shoaib Akhtar.

Sri Lanka: Kumar Sangakkara (capt), Mahela Jayawardene, Tillakaratne Dilshan, Upul Tharanga, Thilan Samaraweera, Angelo Mathews, Farveez Maharoof, Chamara Kapugedara, Nuwan Kulasekara, Lasith Malinga, Muttiah Muralitharan.

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