Misbah, Younis lift Pakistan
Colombo - Misbah-ul-Haq and Younis Khan both hit half-centuries before Sri Lanka applied the brakes to restrict Pakistan to 277-7 in their key Cricket World Cup Group A match at R. Premadasa stadium on Saturday.
Misbah hit an unbeaten 83, and added an invaluable 108 for the fourth wicket with Younis (72), after Pakistan, who elected to bat on a flat pitch, failed to up the run-rate in the final overs against some disciplined Sri Lankan bowling.
With Pakistan looking set for a 300-plus total, Sri Lanka's bowlers, especially Muttiah Muralitharan, kept a tight line and length, only allowing Pakistan 36 runs in the five-over batting power-play.
The wily off-spinner, who finished with 1-35 off his 10 overs, conceded just five runs in his two overs with only three fielders outside the circle.
Pakistan's push was also restricted when Misbah suffered cramps, forcing him to use a runner, and he managed just six boundaries during his 91-ball knock.
With Pakistan selecting eight batsmen, all-rounder Abdul Razzaq (three) and Shahid Afridi (16) came in too late to spark a faster scoring rate.
Mohammad Hafeez (32) and Kamran Akmal (39) added 48 for the second wicket after opener Ahmed Shahzad fell in the sixth over for 13.
Hafeez opened up, hitting paceman Nuwan Kulasekara for a well swept six, but a calamitous run out accounted for his downfall when he swept Muralitharan to backward square-leg without noticing Kamran running down to his end.
Wicketkeeper Kumar Sangakkara's throw went over the bowler's head but Hafeez, leaving his crease late, had no time to recover. Hafeez hit four boundaries and six during his 31-ball knock.
Kamran, who hit five boundaries off 48 balls, and Younis took Pakistan past 100-run mark, when Rangana Herath lured Kamran to leave his crease and was stumped by Sangakkara.
It was left to Younis and Misbah to consolidate the innings.
Younis top-edged Herath in the 41st over, and was smartly caught by Jayawardene after hitting four boundaries during his sedate 76-ball innings.
Sri Lanka was once again forced to leave out spearhead Lasith Malinga after he failed to fully recover from a back strain.
They still made two changes, bringing in Chamara Silva and Herath for Chamara Kapugedera and Ajantha Mendis.
Pakistan remained unchanged from the side which beat Kenya on Wednesday.