Pakistan beat Sri Lanka to reach Asia Cup final

Friday 16 March 2012,

(BNA) DHAKA: Pakistan defeated Sri Lanka by six wickets on Thursday to virtually book their place in the final of the Asia Cup one-day tournament here at the Shere Bangla National Stadium on Saturday.

Chasing 189, Pakistan made a disastrous start losing three early wickets for 33 but captain Misbah-ul-Haq and young Umar Akmal came to rescue and steered their team to a comfortable victory in 39.5 overs.

This was Pakistan’s second successive win after a 21-run victory over Bangladesh on March 13. Now, Pakistan will face India in their last league match on March 18.

Both hit half-centuries, 19th for Misbah and 14th for Umar in one-day international cricket.

They were involved in an impressive fourth wicket partnership of 152 runs which was Pakistan’s second century stand for any wicket in this tournament.

Misbah remained not out on 72, scored off 93 balls with a six and nine fours while Umar hammered 77 from 72 balls with two sixes and seven boundaries.

For Sri Lanka, paceman Suranga Lakmal claimed two wickets for 37.

Earlier, the defending champions were bowled out for 188 runs in 45.4 overs after captain Mahela Jayawardene won the toss and decided to bat first.

Kumar Sangakkara (71) and Upul Tharanga (57) hit half-centuries while only openers Jayawardene (12) and Tillekaratne Dilshan (20) were the only other batsmen to get into double figures.

Paceman Aizaz Cheema was the most successful bowler with four wickets for 43 runs and later won the man-of-the-match award while off-break bowler Saeed Ajmal captured three for 27 and pacer Umar Gul two for 20.

Umar Gul also completed his 150 ODI wickets – the tenth Pakistani bowler to reach this milestone.

Sri Lanka were well-placed at 161-4 following a 96-run fifth wicket stand between former skipper Sangakkara before losing their last six wickets for 27 runs.

Saeed Ajmal started the slide when he bowled Tharanga and then removed Farveez Maharoof and last-man Suranga Lakmal.

Cheema, who conceded 21 runs in his first two overs, came back strongly to dismiss openers Mahela Jayawardene (12) and Tillakaratne Dilshan (20) in quick succession before removing Sangakkara and Lasith Malinga.

The Pakistani bowlers were backed by their fielders, with Younis Khan taking a superb catch to his left in the slips to account for Dinesh Chandimal off Gul.

Sri Lanka raced to 33 in the opening five overs before they were reduced to 65-4, with Cheema taking two wickets and Gul and Hammad Azam one apiece.

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