Sri Lanka batted, bowled and fielded magnificently in the opener of its Pakistan tour on Sunday in Karachi. Piling up a commanding total of 274 for eight in 50 overs, the touring side restricted the home team to 245 in 48 overs. Marvan Atapattu (119 not out) was the Lankan's batting hero of the day. This was the first of the three-match ODI Series. The Sri Lankan spinners Muthiah Muralitharan, Russel Arnold and Upul Chandana were introduced after 14 overs. Arnold trapped Saeed Anwar (36) lbw off the last ball of the 15th over (71 for one). Thereafter, the trio never allowed the Pakistan batsmen to take any liberty. Thus wickets fell at regular intervals to the imaginative efforts of this trio. That apart, there were two brilliant run outs effected by De Saram and Chandana. Both were direct hits at the striker's end and the victims were Aamir Shohail (47) and Yousuf Youhana (6).
Then Chandana took a spectacular tumbling catch at deep mid-off to send back Wasim Akram (23 off 20) off Muralitharan in the 34th over. Two balls later Muralitharan himself dived to his right with fine sense of anticipation to dismiss debutante Imran Abbas (28). And when Kaluwitharana accepted a mishit from Moin Khan off Chandana, Pakistan tumbled from 133 for 3 in the 30th over to 166 for six by the 37th over. The home team was thus facing an asking rate that varied in the range of 7/8 per over. There was a brave act led by Younis Khan. But he lost his 7th wicket partner Abdur Razzaq (24 off 24), who was caught at the deep mid-wicket by Atapattu off Muralitharan (227 for 7 in 45). Soon Younis Khan (46 off 41) became a run-out victim to a direct hit by De Saram. It was all over in the 48th over. Earlier, Sri Lanka skipper Sanath Jayasuriya (54) and Atapattu laid a strong foundation by putting on 110 runs for the second wicket. The rate at which the pair had amassed those runs encouraged the other batsmen to maintain that tempo. No doubt, there were no big individual scores thereafter.
But then, the Pakistan attack struggled in vain to prevent the Lankans from showing a brisk run-rate throughout. Dilshan (34) and Jayawardena (27) provided admirable support to their senior partner Atapattu. In fact the Lankans lost wickets during the end overs when the batsmen showed a tendency to accelerate the run-rate further. Atapattu, who came in at the fall of the first wicket at 11, exhibited the needed technique and temperament to build a valuable innings. In his unconquered effort, Atapattu faced only 135 balls. That would speak for his ability to rotate the strike and frustrate the rival attack.