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Captain Mathews leads Sri Lanka to victory

December 20, 2013

DUBAI, United Arab Emirates (AP) — Captain Angelo Mathews hit a vital knock of 47 runs off 44 balls to lead Sri Lanka to a thrilling two-wicket victory over Pakistan on Friday in their second one-day international, leveling the five-match series at 1-1.

Mathews, who earlier sprained his groin while bowling, got useful contributions from Kumar Sangakkara (58) and Dinesh Chandimal (44) before Sachithra Senanayake hit the winning boundary to get Sri Lanka to 287-8.

Mathews’ match-winning effort overshadowed Pakistan opening batsman Ahmed Shehzad’s career-best 124 and captain Misbah-ul-Haq’s unbeaten 59 that helped Pakistan notch a total of 284-4.

Sri Lanka lost a nail-biting opening match by 11 runs at Sharjah, which hosts the third match on Sunday.

“The amount of talent that we have got, it’s unbelievable,” Mathews said. “The way Sanga and Chandimal batted, they set it up for us ... I am glad we were able to pull it through. It was a good fighting performance today.”

Sangakkara and Chandimal put the innings back on track by contributing 94 runs. Sangakkara reached 12,000 runs in ODIs when he reached 29 after some smart fielding by Pakistan ran out both openers Tillakaratne Dilshan (40) and Kusal Perera (16).

Offspinner Saeed Ajmal then hurried a middle-order collapse when Sangakkara got a thick inside edge back onto his stump while attempting an expansive sweep shot and Junaid Khan (3-52) clean bowled Chandimal and Thisara Perera as Sri Lanka slipped to 5-173.

However, Nuwan Kulasekara, promoted in the batting order, smashed three fours and two big sixes in his quickfire 32 off 26 balls with left-arm seamer Sohail Tanvir being smashed for 30 runs in two overs.

Although Afridi had Kulasekara stumped and Khan had Seekkuge Prasanna clean bowled in quick succession Mathews and Dimuth Kuranaratne kept their cool.

With only four required in the last over Mathews perished off Afridi’s first ball before Senanayake cut the legspinner to point boundary for winning runs.

“Looking at the wicket, it was really a good score,” Misbah said. “We were in control, but one or two bad overs cost us the game ... they are a good team and we know each other very well, so it’s game on.”

Earlier, Shehzad and Misbah put on 105 for the fourth wicket off 101 balls, and Shahid Afridi hit a typically aggressive unbeaten 30 off 15 balls to give Pakistan a challenging total against an injury-hit Sri Lankan bowling attack.

Shehzad faced 140 balls and hit eight fours while Misbah surpassed India’s Virat Kohli as the leading scorer in 2013. He remained unbeaten on 59 off 62 balls to raise his tally to 1,282 in his 14th ODI half century of the year. Kohli has 1,268 runs.

Sri Lanka middle-order batsman Lahiru Thirimanne was ruled out after twisting his ankle during practice just before Mathews won the toss and elected to field first, while medium-fast bowlers Perera and the Sri Lanka skipper sustained injuries while bowling.

In the absence of Perera and Mathews, star bowler Lasith Malinga looked completely out of sorts despite giving an early breakthrough and was hammered for 78 runs.

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