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Malinga Crushes Pakistan in Asia Cup First Match

Dambulla: Shahid Afridi’s blazing fast century didn’t help Pakistan to win in their first match in Asia Cup against Sri Lanka. Shahid scroed 109 in just 76 balls including 8 fours and 7 huge sixes.

Earlier Comeback pacer Shoaib Akhtar bowled with verve and purpose on an unresponsive wicket to help Pakistan restrict Sri Lanka to 242 for nine in the first match of the Asia Cup cricket tournament here on Tuesday.

Playing his first international match in 13 months, the controversial fast bowler scalped three wickets in four short spells to restrict Lanka to a modest total at the Rangiri Dambulla International stadium.

For the Lankans, Mahela Jayawardene (54) and Kumar Sangakkara (42) came up with useful knocks but it was Angellow Matthews’ unbeaten 55 off 61 balls that took the defending champions near the 250-mark.

Shoaib Akhtar was the pick of the Pakistani bowlers and the 34-year-old, who last played in a ODI against Australia in Abu Dhabi in May, did work up speeds in the region of 140 KMPH plus but was far from his menacing best.

Evidently, Shoaib lacked rhythm and fitness, indicating that he could possibly break down during the course this four-nation tournament. His run-up was staggered and direction wasn’t pin-point but Shoaib was never short of effort, putting his heart into every delivery he hurled at the Lankans.

Akhtar bagged the scalps of Upul Tharanga (11), who was snaffled at first slip by Salman Butt, Chamara Kapugedara (2), who was gobbled by Umar Akmal at short backward point and Farveez Maharoof (1), who meekly followed a full length ball into Kamran Akmal’s gloves.

Sri Lanka could have folded up for a much lesser total had Jayawardene and captain Sangakkara not raised 83 fighting runs for the third wicket.

The hosts were in a spot of bother at 36 for two when the two most experienced and accomplished batsmen in the side came up with the rescue act.

Though runs came at a trickle, Sangakkara and Jayawardene applied themselves to the task to beat back the strong Pakistan challenge in front of a motley crowd. As long as Sangakkara, who fell to a smart over-head catch at short mid-wicket by Umar Akmal off Shahid Afridi, and Jayawardene, who was trapped in front by off-spinner Shoaib Malik, were at the square Lanka seemed headed to a score of over 250.

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