Maqsood, Alam strike as Pakistan draw first blood

HAMBANTOTA: Sohaib Maqsood and Fawad Alam struck quick-fire fifties and combined in a record 147-run sixth wicket stand as Pakistan defeated Sri Lanka by four wickets with one ball remaining in the first one-day international at Hambantota on Saturday. Shahid Afridi (14 not out) hit a boundary off Nuwan Kulasekara as the visitors, chasing 275 in 45 overs in the rain-hit match, reached their Duckworth-Lewis revised target to take a 1-0 lead in the three-match series. Sri Lanka captain Angelo Mathews earlier bailed his team out of trouble with his highest one-day international score as the hosts made 275-7 in their 45 overs after Misbahul Haq had won the toss and put Sri Lanka in under overcast conditions.
Pakistan looked dead and buried at 106 for five in the 23rd over but Alam (62) and Maqsood (89 not out) consolidated the innings and then launched a counter-attack to throw the Sri Lankan bowling into disarray. The partnership in 117 balls also eclipsed Pakistan’s previous best for the sixth wicket of 144, also against Sri Lanka in 1983, by Imran Khan and Shahid Mahboob. The stand ended when Alam was caught at third man by Ashan Priyanjan off Lasith Malinga, with Pakistan needing 22 off three overs but Maqsood who bettered his previous best ODI score of 73, and Afridi ensured there were no further hiccups.
Maqsood survived two run out chances and wicketkeeper Kumar Sangakkara also missed a stumping chance against him off Rangana Herath’s left-arm spin. Pakistan openers Ahmed Shehzad (49) and Mohammad Hafeez (21) made a brisk start in their chase and it was left to all-rounder Mathews to break the 39-run partnership. The medium-pace bowler first dismissed Hafeez leg before and then sent back experienced Younus Khan (3) when the batsman attempted a sweep from outside off stump but was caught by Kulasekara at the fine leg boundary.
Shehzad and wicketkeeper-batsman Umar Akmal (15) fell to all-rounder Thisara Perera before captain Misbah edged left-arm spinner Herath to Sangakkara behind the stumps as Pakistan was reduced to 106-5. Sri Lanka themselves were reeling at 75-4 when Mathews (89) joined Mahela Jayawardene (63) at the crease and the duo curbed their attacking instincts and milked the Pakistan bowling to add 116 for the fifth wicket and prop up the innings.
Mathews, who hit nine fours and two sixes during his 85-ball knock, missed out on his maiden century when he was bowled by Wahab Riaz, who took 3-50, while looking for quick runs towards the end of the innings. Priyanjan’s quick-fire 39 off just 15 deliveries gave Sri Lanka good acceleration towards the end as the hosts added 60 from the last five overs and 105 from the last 10. Pakistan paceman Mohammad Irfan, coming back after a long absence due to injury, used his height to extract steep bounce off the pitch and troubled the batsmen to pick up two wickets for 48 runs.

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Aaj Kal