Hafeez leads Pakistan to easy victory


An all-round effort from veteran Mohammad Hafeez, who took four wicket and scored a century, led Pakistan to a comprehensive six-wicket win over Sri Lanka in the first ODI in Dambulla on Saturday.

Hafeez was bowling despite recently being reported and tested for a suspect action. With the test results not back from Chennai yet, he was allowed to bowl, and did so to maximum effect as Sri Lanka made just 255/8. He then scored 103 to lead his side to victory.

Pakistan won the toss and opted to field, while Sri Lanka handed a debut to all-rounder Milinda Siriwardene. The hosts got off to a decent start as Kusal Perera and Tillakaratne Dilshan put on 44 for the first wicket.

Hafeez removed both batsmen though, with Kusal out for 26, and eight overs later Dilshan was bagged for 38. Sri Lanka's top order all got decent scores, none failing for less than 20, but none could push on.

The only score of significance was a 65 not out from Dinesh Chandimal, whose efforts ensured a 250-plus score when it appeared they'd hover around 220. But with Pakistan's batsmen playing more ODI cricket in recent weeks, it was not enough.

Hafeez came in at three when Azhar Ali was removed for 21 by Angelo Mathews. He set about plundering the runs, with first Babar Azam and then Shoaib Malik as his partners. Hafeez's ton came off 93 balls, before he was caught and bowled by Thisara Perera for 103.

Malik was the one who ended up seeing the side home, making 55 not out. There were 28 balls to spare in the match, and Sri Lanka will be disappointed with their bowlers, none of whom went for less than four to the over. Lasith Malinga went for 56 in eight overs and didn't take a wicket.

The second game is on Wednesday 15 July.