Malinga’s deadly strikes

A great victory... Lasith Malinga (left) and skipper Kumar Sangakkara celebrate after Sri Lanka’s 19-run win against Pakistan.-AP A great victory... Lasith Malinga (left) and skipper Kumar Sangakkara celebrate after Sri Lanka’s 19-run win against Pakistan.

The Sri Lankan fast bowler flummoxed Pakistan with his swing, speed and changes in pace as the islanders defended their modest total with verve. S. Dinakar reports.

The Sri Lankans won the big moments of the game. They put pressure on their rival with a varied bowling attack — backed by sharp fielding — striking at regular intervals. A total of 150 was defended with verve. The islanders won the Group ‘F’ Super Eight duel at Lord’s by 19 runs.

Lasith Malinga struck deadly blows with his swing, speed, changes in pace and fuller length deliveries. Since he delivers with a low sling-arm action, it is not easy to pick his variations.

Both Shoaib Malik and Younis Khan were done in by Malinga’s changes in pace just when they were threatening to win the game for Pakistan. Skipper Younis (50 off 37 balls), in particular, was batting with resolve when he miscued Malinga in the 17th over. This was the decisive strike in the game.

As the game reached the last five overs, the Lankans found the right mix as Malinga combined with off-spinning wizard Muttiah Muralitharan.

Muralitharan’s ability to straighten the ball led to the dismissals of Misbah-ul-Haq and Shahid Afridi in the same over as they attempted to hit with the spin.

Paceman Angelo Matthews removed Salman Butt early and spinner Ajantha Mendis bowled stump-to-stump with subtle variations.

Earlier, the Sri Lankans, after winning the toss, sizzled at the start before losing momentum. A wayward opening over by left-arm paceman Sohail Tanvir set the tempo for the Lankan innings. The Lankan openers seized the initiative.

Tillekeratne Dilshan (46, 39b, 8x4), a batsman quick of feet and mind, pierced the in-field in the Power Play overs. Much of his cover-driving was gorgeous. His bat-speed enables him to pull off some remarkable strokes like the outrageous scoop over the ’keeper’s head.

Sanath Jayasuriya (26, 24b, 2x4, 1x6) dumped left-arm paceman Mohammed Aamir over the square-leg fence. The young Aamir bowled zestfully; he generates pace and extracts bounce from a whippy action.

The opening pair plundered 81 runs in nine overs. Then, Pakistan fought back with Afridi bowling a splendid spell of controlled leg-spin. He was slower through the air, spun the ball and drew the batsmen into strokes.

Afridi rarely gave the batsmen any width; his googlies were on target. He is peaking as a bowler in this phase of his career. The leggie’s bowling lifted the Pakistanis. Off-spinner Ajmal bowled well and Umar Gul impressed at the Death.

The Pakistanis had given themselves a chance, but the Lankans had other ideas.

THE SCORES Pakistan v Sri Lanka Result: Sri Lanka won by 19 runs.

Sri Lanka: T. M. Dilshan b Afridi 46, S. T. Jayasuriya c Younis Khan b Afridi 26, K. C. Sangakkara st. Kamran Akmal b Ajmal 15, D. P. M. D. Jayawardene c Afridi b Ajmal 19, L. P. C. Silva c Kamran Akmal b Umar Gul 8, J. Mubarak (run out) 5, A. D. Mathews (not out) 9, K. M. D. N. Kulasekara lbw b Umar Gul 0, S. L. Malinga (not out) 2, Extras (lb-7, w-10, nb-3) 20. Total (for 7 wkts; 20 overs) 150.

Fall of wickets: 1-81, 2-89, 3-110, 4-128, 5-132, 6-148, 7-148.

Pakistan bowling: Sohail Tanvir 2-0-29-0, Mohammad Aamer 4-0-26-0, Umar Gul 4-0-34-2, Shahid Afridi 4-0-23-2, Saeed Ajmal 4-0-26-2, Shoaib Malik 2-0-5-0.

Pakistan: Salman Butt b Mathews 0, Kamran Akmal (run out) 5, Shoaib Malik c Kulasekara b Malinga 28, Younis Khan c Sangakkara b Malinga 50, Misbah-ul-Haq c Silva b Muralitharan 21, Shahid Afridi c Dilshan b Muralitharan 0, Fawad Alam c Sangakkara b Kulasekara 12, Sohail Tanvir c & b Malinga 3, Umar Gul (not out) 9, Mohammad Aamer (run out) 0, Saeed Ajmal (not out) 0, Extras (b-1, w-2) 3. Total (for 9 wkts; 20 overs) 131.

Fall of wickets: 1-0, 2-34, 3-35, 4-101, 5-101, 6-108, 7-121, 8-123, 9-124.

Sri Lanka bowling: A. D. Mathews 4-0-23-1, K. M. D. N. Kulasekara 4-0-30-1, S. L. Malinga 4-0-17-3, M. Muralitharan 4-0-28-2, B. A. W. Mendis 3-0-24-0, S. T. Jayasuriya 1-0-8-0.