Since 1975, these two nations have battled it out in 132 ODIs, with Pakistan dominating in 77 of them. Apart from the home advantage, the odds had been stacked up against their opponents Sri Lanka since day 1 of the 5-ODI series. In the first ODI, the Lankans suffered an embarrassing loss, but came back strong in the second ODI of the series, outclassing Pakistan in batting as well as bowling. After the third ODI was washed out, Lanka pushed their form on and won the fourth ODI, getting a 2-1 series lead. Pakistan had to win this today to draw the series and save some face. they couldn't..
Visitors had managed to get a decent enough score on the board and had started their bowling attack well. A Pak win seemed inevitable at one point, but in what was one of the most thrilling series finishes in recent times, Sri Lanka snatched it away in the last over with Angelo Mathews keeping a cool head. 2 wickets is now the narrowest margin Pak v SL ODIs. here's how the story unfolded.
The scoresPakistan 247 for 7 wkts in 50 ovs.
Sri Lanka 248 for 8 wkts in 49.4 ovs.
Full scorecard : 5th ODI, 18 June 2012.
Defending a considerable total, Pakistan got the bowling start they wanted as both Sri Lankan openers Tharanga and Dilshan fell cheaply. Sohail Tanvir bowled like he was to swing his team across the finish line pretty easily but Lankans fought back with Sangakkara and Chandimal getting an almost 100-run partnership between them. Afridi struck then, getting Sangakkara and fresh batsman to the crease Jayawardene out in 2 consecutive deliveries. Pakistan were pulling out all the stops now, steam-rolling towards an almost visible victory.
Chandimal stuck around with Angelo Mathews for a while and made his half century, but was out shortly after. Mathews now, was Lanka’s only hope, but his partners were just throwing their wickets away in a situation when they needed to protect the bails more than score runs. They were down to 175 for 7 at one point. Mendis, who's played several games but never really cemented his place in national side, came in and gave Mathews a little hope with some attacking shots, but it was not long before Tanvir showed him the way to pavilion. Kulasekara was up to the crease next, and with 3 overs remaining, Sri Lanka needed 31 runs for the win.
Mathews pushed on, Kulasekara aided him and with one over remaining, they needed 15 runs more. Sami hadn't bowled well in the match but captain Misbah gave him the finaly over for some reason unknown. Sami bowled perfect full tosses and overpitched deliveries to let Lankans home with 2 balls remaining.
There was ecstasy all over the cricket field as the Lankans ran to their hero of the day. The look on Mathews’ face said it all.
Earlier, luck was on Pakistan’s side at the beginning of the day. They won the toss and chose to bat. After a slow start and losing Hafeez early, opener Imran Farhat and Azhar Ali brought things under control and up to speed. Apart from early loss of Mohammad Hafeez, every batsman running through to the middle order had a contribution to Pakistan’s total, with Farhat and Umar Akmal getting half centuries. Even though they lost wickets at regular intervals, they played the entire 50 overs confidently and made 247 with 7 wickets down, which was never going to be an easy task for Sri Lanka on an unpredictable RPS pitch.
It was a hard fought victory for home team, one that Sri Lanka will remember for a long time to come. Unmistakable passion in Mathews brought out a performance that will someday be ranked with the greats of cricket. Sri Lanka won the series 3-1.