Pakistan built a winning position against Sri Lanka only to collapse with the winning line in sight, losing the Asia Cup curtain-raiser by 12 runs in Fatullah.
Sri Lanka won the toss and opted to bat first. They built a superb position on the back of Lahiru Thirimanne's century only to lose momentum and slip to 296-6 from their 50 overs when a bigger score seemed possible.
Pakistan started slowly in response until Misbah-ul-Haq and Umar Akmal combined for 121 runs in good time. But with the game at their mercy, the duo gave their wickets away, and Sri Lanka sparked a collapse which settled the contest. From 242-4, they subsided to 284 all out.
|Sri Lanka Innings|
|K Perera||c U Akmal||b Gul||14||26||26|
|Sangakkara||c Shehzad||b Gul||67||102||65|
|M Jayawardene||b Shahid Afridi||13||33||19|
|T Perera||c Shehzad||b Shahid Afridi||6||15||9|
|de Silva||run out (Shehzad)||2||6||2|
|Extras||0nb 8w 4b 6lb||18|
|Total||for 6||296||(50.0 ovs)|
|Khan||c Mathews||b Lakmal||26||29||23|
|Shehzad||b de Silva||28||61||37|
|Maqsood||c de Silva||b Senanayake||17||41||27|
|Misbah-ul-Haq||c Senanayake||b Malinga||73||127||84|
|U Akmal||c Sangakkara||b Lakmal||74||75||72|
|Shahid Afridi||c Chandimal||b Malinga||4||11||7|
|Gul||c de Silva||b Malinga||2||8||6|
|Junaid Khan||not out||1||4||1|
|Extras||0nb 10w 0b 3lb||13|
|Total||all out||284||(48.5 ovs)|
It is just the first match of the tournament, and it is too early to draw sweeping conclusions about either side's prospects—but both side's inability to finish off innings with the bat will be a concern going forward in the competition.
Sri Lanka had done the hard work—Thirimanne had played with poise and pace, with his 102 coming from 110 balls, while Kumar Sangakkara (67) played around him.
But from 203-2 at 35 overs, only prising out a further 93 runs would have been sorely disappointing.
Pakistan's death bowling and variety reaped rewards—spinner Saeed Ajmal gave little away, while left-arm seamer Junaid Khan held his nerve in the death overs as well.
Sri Lanka skipper Angelo Mathews prised out an unbeaten 55 from 50 balls for the visitors, but he found little support.
The Pakistan chase was steady but looked destined to be falling short as Misbah and Akmal were united in the middle at 121-4. The top four had all managed starts only to give their wickets away.
The pair doubled the score and upped the run rate, managing in 19 overs what it had taken the rest of the top order 23.3 overs to post.
36 - Misbah-ul-Haq & Angelo Mathews have today hit their respective 36th & 18th ODI 50s. Neither has a ton. Leaders. pic.twitter.com/15NnAr59Z7— OptaJim (@OptaJim) February 25, 2014
Akmal's fluid play was particularly impressive, lofting three nonchalant sixes away as Sri Lanka looked short of ideas. But it was his dismissal that started the rot at 242-4 when Suranga Lakmal drew an edge to an attacking shot.
Lasith Malinga then picked up two wickets in an over—including that of Misbah—as Pakistan tried to take him on. His otherwise ordinary evening was suddenly transformed into another five-wicket haul.
The game looked to have disappeared from Pakistan's grasp, as the notoriously brittle tail fell away.
They kept it alive until the penultimate over, but Malinga clean bowled Bilawal Bhatti to get the islanders off to a winning start.