Afridi, Misbah help sloppy Pakistan to victory over Sri Lanka

The captain takes four wickets to ensure no late scare after his deputy laid down the foundation in the team's win by 11 runs.

Misbah-ul-Haq plays a flick on his way to an unbeaten 83. Eranga Jayawardena / AP Photo
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COLOMBO // Chaos. Pakistan’s cricketers. Seldom more than a punctuation mark apart.

Last night they proved that nobody does it better, calling on their favourite themes of running between the wickets and no-balls to create a comedy of confusion. And they still won. Go figure.

Kamran Akmal, the troubled wicketkeeper batsman, is ever the willing stooge. First he played his part in the farce with the bat, when he and Mohammad Hafeez, the opener, ended up at the same end, rather than opposites, while attempting a single.

When Sri Lanka then went a roundabout route to affecting the run out, no one knew who was supposed to be given out, and a replay was needed to decide Hafeez’s eventual fate. The reruns might as well have been accompanied by canned laughter.

Earlier in the day, it was revealed that Mohammad Aamer would be appealing the five-year ban passed down to him earlier this month for bowling no-balls to order in last summer’s Lord’s Test.

Overstepping remains a bane for Pakistan seam-bowlers. An out-of-sync Umar Gul was the chief culprit yesterday, sending down one costly effort which led to four wides a ball later as he tried to lessen the damage of the free-hit.

Ian Gould, the umpire, had to perform so many different signals – first the wide, then the four-byes, then the repeat of the free-hit sign – he looked as though he was auditioning to be in Village People with a rendition of YMCA.

In his previous incarnation, Gould was a wicketkeeper of great repute, playing for England behind the timbers in the 1983 World Cup.

He is probably wondering what has become of that profession after watching Akmal appear as though he was playing the cymbals behind the stumps, patting down two leg-side stumping chances.

Both reprieved Kumar Sangakkara, the Sri Lanka captain, and each could have proved crucial, had the host nation not been intent on squandering all the good luck afforded to them.

Pakistan went into this match as unheralded outsiders to win the World Cup, but they will be significantly buoyed by the fact they beat a strong Sri Lanka side despite being a long way short of their best.

Most of the talk ahead of this competition has been of the fact it is the World Cup swansong of two greats of the game, Muttiah Muralitharan and India’s Sachin Tendulkar.

It might have passed many by, but Pakistan have a few champions of their own who might not make it to the next World Cup.

Each looked keen to leave something to remember them by as Younus Khan and Misbah-ul-Haq laid the platform with the bat, which Shahid Afridi and Shoaib Akhtar then bolstered with the ball.

pradley@thenational.ae

SCORECARD

Pakistan:

Ahmed Shahzad c Sangakkara b Perera 13

Mohammad Hafeez run out 32

Kamran Akmal st Sangakkara b Herath 39

Younis Khan c Jayawardene b Herath 72

Misbah-ul-Haq not out 83

Umar Akmal c Dilshan b Muralitharan 10

Shahid Afridi c Dilshan b Mathews 16

Abdul Razzaq c sub (Kapugedera) b Perera 3

Extras: (lb4, w5) 9

Total: (for seven wkts; 50 overs) 277

Fall of wickets: 1-28 (Shahzad), 2-76 (Hafeez), 3-105 (Kamran Akmal), 4-213 (Younis), 5-238 (Umar Akmal), 6-267 (Afridi), 7-277 (Razzaq)

Bowling: Kulasekara 10-1-64-0 (w1), Perera 9-0-62-2 (w2), Mathews 10-0-56-1, Muralitharan 10-0-35-1 (w2), Herath 10-0-46-2, Dilshan 1-0-10-0

Sri Lanka:

U Tharanga c Afridi b Hafeez 33

T Dilshan b Afridi 41

K Sangakkara c Shahzad b Afridi 49

M Jayawardene b Akhtar 2

T Samaraweera st Kamran b Afridi 1

C Silva st Kamran b Rehman 57

A Mathews c Shahzad b Afridi 18

T Perera b Akhtar 8

N Kulasekara c Umar b Gul 24

R Herath not out 4

M Muralitharan not out 0

Extras: (b1, lb10, nb2, w16) 29

Total: (for nine wkts; 50 overs) 266

Fall of wickets: 1-76 (Tharanga), 2-88 (Dilshan), 3-95 (Jayawardene), 4-96 (Samaraweera), 5-169 (Sangakkara), 6-209 (Mathews), 7-232 (Prera), 8-233 (Silva), 9-265 (Kulasekara)

Bowling: Akhtar 10-0-42-2, Razzaq 5-1-23-0, Gul 9-0-60-1 (nb1, w6), Hafeez 6-0-33-1 (w2), Afridi 10-0-34-4 (w1), Rehman 10-1-63-1 (1nb, w7)

Result: Pakistan won by 11 runs