Sri Lanka vs Pakistan 1st ODI: Hafeez’s all-round performance sinks Sri Lanka

Hafeez excelled with both the bat and ball

Hafeez excelled with both the bat and ball

Image courtesy of: ESPNcricinfo

Pakistan all-rounder Mohammad Hafeez scored 103 and took four wickets to lead his side to a comfortable six-wicket win over Sri Lanka in the first ODI in Dambulla.

Hafeez was well supported by fellow all-rounder Shoaib Malik, who made an unbeaten 55.

However, Sri Lanka wicketkeeper-batsman Dinesh Chandimal deserves some credit for his valiant knock of 65 not out.

Pakistan captain Azhar Ali would have been pleased with his decision to bowl first as Sri Lanka’s entire top and middle order got off to promising starts before throwing their wickets away.

Chandimal was the only batsman to avoid this trap and ended up making 65 off 68 balls, which included five boundaries and a six.

Chandimal made a gutsy 65 not out

Chandimal made a gutsy 65 not out

Image courtesy of: ESPNcricinfo

Thanks to Chandimal’s knock and the combined efforts of the top and middle order, Sri Lanka finished on 255/8 off their 50 overs.

Hafeez was the pick of the bowlers with four wickets, while Rahat Ali snapped up two and Anwar Ali and Yasir Shah chipped in with one wicket apiece.

Chasing 256 to win, Pakistan got off to a solid start before losing Ali and Ahmed Shehzad in quick succession.

However, Hafeez and Babar Azam stabilised the innings with a 58-run partnership before Azam was given out lbw off the bowling of Tillakaratne Dilshan for 25.

Hafeez and Malik kept the runs flowing with a 75-run partnership, during which Hafeez brought up his 10th ODI century, before he was caught and bowled by Thisara Perera.

Hafeez’s superb innings of 103 came off 95 balls and included 10 boundaries and four sixes.

Malik and Mohammad Rizwan finished things off an unbeaten 61-run stand, during which Malik recorded his half-century.

Malik ended up finishing on 55 off 45 balls, which included four boundaries and two sixes, while Rizwan remained undefeated on 20 off 34 deliveries, which included two boundaries.

Perera, Dilshan, Suranga Lakmal and Sri Lanka captain Angelo Mathews claimed one wicket each.

Mathews was not impressed with his side’s performance, and said: “Initially 255 was below par on the wicket. It was a bit spongy and turning quite a bit as well. It got better in the second half, but we just couldn’t put a score [together]. We couldn’t pick up wickets at crucial stages. Hafeez batted really well. We didn’t play our best cricket, but hopefully we can come back better in the next few games.

“Good couple of days off now, been playing non-stop. Just need to prepare mentally. No complication about the change of rules. Had a good team meeting. Keep an eye on the rules, keeps changing, makes it even harder. But we have to deal with it.”

Ali was delighted to have taken a 1-0 lead in the series, and said: “Great team performance, everyone played their part. Hafeez had an exceptional day. Played like a champion with ball and bat. Restricting Sri Lanka to 250 was great. Last 10 overs was great. Hafeez got crucial wickets at crucial times. All the bowlers were disciplined and I think it was backed up by the batsmen very well. Everyone was positive and performed their roles.

“Nowadays you have to pick up wickets to stop runs. That message is clear. Whenever the bowlers feel they can pick wickets, they should. Yasir is very confident. Hit for a few boundaries early on, but he’s got great temperament. Sri Lanka can come back strong and we need to be mindful of that. Really important [while] the team is in a rebuilding phase, you need experience to guide the youngsters.”

Hafeez was named Man of the Match, and said: “Definitely. I have to put that [scrutiny on his bowling action] aside and concentrate on what is in my hands. We wanted to have a good series in the ODIs. Wanted to continue the tempo from the Test team. It’s a great game, always great to see Pakistan’s young players do well. [Shoaib Malik] played a very good innings to contribute to the victory. We wanted to have a good start to the series. First the bowlers did a great job to restrict them to 250 and then we could attack. No pressure. Just played normally. It was a new plan, the green signal was given by the management. They gave me the licence to play aggressively and it worked.”

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