Colombo, Feb 26: In a dramatic 10th match of the World Cup 2011, Pakistan edged past Sri Lanka by a mere 11 runs at Colombo, with leg-break Shahid Afridi doing the bulk of the damage and finishing with figures of 4/34. Chasing Pakistan's 277/7, Sri Lanka got off to a ominous start, but went through a top-order collapse before Lankan captain Kumar Sangakkara (49) and Chamara Silva (57) fought tooth and nail to revive the innings. After stabilising things, they tried to launch a late charge, but perished in their objective and even a flourish at the end by Nuwan Kulasekara (24) wasn't enough to take the Lankans home. The home side eventually lost the match by 11 runs.
Earlier in the day, Pakistan were in a spot of bother at 105/3 when Misbah-ul-Haq (83*) and Younis Khan (72) put on a 108-run stand to take Pakistan to a strong position. The latter order then chipped in to set Sri Lanka the stiff target of 278, an ask which eventually proved too big.
Despite the outcome of the match, Sri Lanka's innings began on a positive note. Opener Upul Tharamga struck Shoaib Akhtar for the first four in the 3rd over and followed up the shot with a boundary of Abdul Razzaq in the next. Then Tillakratne Dilshan's batting took on an aggressive tone, as he smacked Razzaq for two consecutive fours in the 6th over. Sri Lanka had moved to 26/0 in 6 overs.
The fours came at a faster pace, one of the 9th, 10th and 11th over before Dilshan crashed Umar Gul away for two more boundaries in the 12th over as Sri Lanka crossed 50. In fact, 16 runs came off that over which included 5 wides from Gul. Then in a dramatic 15th over, Tharanga blasted Mohammaed Hafeez for another four before the bowler had him caught by captain Shahid Afridi at mid off. He was out for 33 off 43 and Pakistan had their opening breakthrough with the score at 76/1 in 14.2 overs.
10 runs later, Pakistan effected a top-order collapse with leg-spinner Shahid Afridi first bowling Dilshan for 41 off 55 balls and paceman Akhtar doing the same to Mahela Jayawardene for 2. Then in the next over, Afridi had Thilan Samaraweera stumped for 1 and Sri Lanka were reeling at 96/4 in 21.2 overs. But Sangakkara was not inclined to surrender meekly to the predicament. He swatted Akhtar for a four in the 23rd over to bring up Lanka's 100.
Then he and Chamara Silva tried desperately to revive the innings against the fearsome spin of Afridi and Abdur Rehman. The boundaries had long since dried up and the singles were only coming intermittently, even when Sri Lanka took the batting powerplay in the 34th over.
Then Pakistan had a loose period, missing a stumping chance and dropping a catch, to let Sangakkara and Charama Silva off the hook respectively. But the latter batsman was batting very slowly, making 22 off 55 before his partner was out caught at long off, off the bowling of Afridi. Lanka were 169/5 in 37.4 overs.
Then with the score at 189/5 in 42 overs, Silva sensed the time to cut loose had arrived and carted Rehman for two consecutive fours, before Angelo Mathews rounded off the over with another boundary, taking Sri Lanka past 200. Silva got Afridi away for another four in the next over, but a couple of balls later, perished to the bowler, trying to heave him over long off only to find the fielder there. Sri Lanka were 209 for 6 at that stage, still requiring 69 off 38 balls.
In the 44th over, Silva and Thisara Perera teamed up to each take a four off Umar Gul. Silva then got Akhtar away for another boundary, but the bowler returned later in the over to bowl Perera for 8 off 6. In the next over, Rehman had Silva stumped for 57 off 79 and with Lanka at 232/8 at that stage, the chances of the home side racing to victory were looking progressively bleak.
They still needed 45 off 24 balls, but Nuwan Kulasekara came out with all guns blazing, hitting a four off Rehman first ball. Kulsekara hit one more four before he was caught by Umar Akmal at long on off the bowling off Umar Gul. He was gone for a valiant 24 off 14 balls and Sri Lanka had finished their 50 overs with their score just 11 short of Pakistan's 277/7.