Allrounder Perera on song against Pakistan
Pallekele: Allrounder Thisara Perera claimed career-best figures of 6 for 44 to help Sri Lanka comfortably beat Pakistan by 76 runs in the second one-day international and square the series 1-1 at the Pallekele International Stadium on Saturday.
After opener Tillakaratne Dilshan slammed his 13th one-day century, Perera ripped through the Pakistan batting lineup to claim the best bowling figures by a Sri Lankan in ODIs against Pakistan. Set a target of 281 to go 2-0 up in the series, Pakistan was moving along nicely at 127 for 2 in the 30th over.
Perera then trapped captain Misbah-ul-Haq leg before wicket for 27 and that triggered a collapse as Pakistan was bowled out for 204 in the 47th over. Perera, who had earlier smashed an unbeaten 24 off 14 balls, accounted for Mohammad Hafeez and Younis Khan coming in as second change after the new ball had failed to give Sri Lanka a breakthrough. He then dismissed Misbah before accounting for Umar Akmal on the first ball of a fresh spell.
Perera completed his third five-wicket haul when Sohail Tanvir attempted to clear the square leg boundary in vain and was well caught by Upul Tharanga. It was the third time he took a wicket off the first ball of a new spell in the innings.
Opener Azhar Ali missed out on what would have been his maiden ODI century when a Kulasekara yorker broke his leg stump into two. He made 96 off 119 deliveries with 12 fours.
Earlier, Dilshan carried his bat through for his second century against Pakistan. His unbeaten 119, his third century in ODIs this year, came off 138 deliveries with 11 fours and a six. Sri Lanka abandoned the experiment of opening with captain Mahela Jayawardene and instead Upul Tharanga opened the innings with Dilshan. Tharanga added 37 runs for the first wicket before being caught behind off the bowling of Tanvir.
Dilshan was involved in a 47-run partnership for the second wicket with Kumar Sangakkara and a 70-run stand with Dinesh Chandimal for the third wicket. The third-wicket partnership was broken when Shahid Afridi trapped Chandimal leg before.
Jayawadene’s presence in the middle order rather than its top was useful and he was able to steady proceedings and handle Pakistan’s formidable spin attack cleverly.
Jayawardene reached his 67th half-century in style by reverse sweeping Saeed Ajmal for four but was bowled the very next ball. His 53 came off 45 deliveries with eight well-executed boundaries.
The fourth-wicket partnership between Jayawardene and Dilshan was worth 86 runs and came off 88 deliveries. The impetus for the Sri Lanka innings came when the big hitting Perera was sent in after Jayawardene lost his wicket, and ahead of Angelo Mathews and Lahiru Thirimanne.
He smashed 24 runs off 14 deliveries with two fours and two sixes to help Sri Lanka to the 280 mark as Pakistan bowlers conceded 45 runs in the last five overs.