Pakistan voyage to four-wicket win against Sri Lanka

Legspinner Shahid Afridi bagged three wickets for 37 runs Wednesday and was backed up by a stylish half-century from Mohammad Yousuf to guide Pakistan to a comfortable four-wicket win against Sri Lanka in the third limited-overs international and a series sweep

Opening batsmen Shoaib Malik and Imran Farhat scored 46 runs each to help secure the win at the Sinhalese Sports Club ground.

With a close four-wicket win in a low-scoring game at Premadasa Stadium last Sunday and the first match being abandoned because of rain the visitors won the three-match series 2-0.

Pakistan 's bowlers bundled Sri Lanka out for 224 in the last over of the innings Wednesday after Pakistan skipper Inzamam-ul-Haq won the toss and invited the hosts to bat first.

Pakistan reached its target in the 46th over with four wickets remaining.

Haq praised his batsmen for scoring well on a conducive pitch and not conceding many wickets to leading offspinner Muttiah Muralitharan in the series.

Muralitharan, who has taken more than 1,000 wickets in test and limited-overs cricket, went wicketless in the first two matches but took three wickets in the last match for 58 runs.

"Since we have a young side, the boys have not played Murali much in the past. But they have played him really well (in the series)," Haq said.

"Hopefully they will continue that in the test series."

Sri Lanka 's stand-in captain Mahela Jayawardene said that his team's failure to maintain middle-order partnerships cost them the series.

"We had a good start but lost the momentum when we lost wickets on a regular basis in the middle," Jayawardene said.

"We just could not get a partnership going," he said.

"The mistakes we have been making are cardinal and I reckon that those are the mistakes that cost us the last two games."

Sri Lanka's young opening batsmen Upul Tharanga and Chamara Kapugedera provided a solid 57-run stand and the hosts were one wicket down for 86 in the 21st over, threatening to post a big total, when Haq called Afridi to bowl.

Then Afridi dismissed key batsmen Kumar Sangakkara (22), Kaushal Lokuarachchi (13) and Russel Arnold (0) to push down the scoring rate. He was named man of the match for his performance.

Kapugedera made 50 his maiden half-century in 74 balls including seven boundaries. Tillakaratne Dilshan amassed a 46-ball 44 that included four boundaries.

The visitors took a brisk start with opener Malik and Farhat sharing 61 runs in just 52 balls. Malik cracked 46 in 38 balls including nine fours.

He plundered 10 runs off Muralitharan's first over, but was dismissed in the same over, caught by Kapugedera at extra-cover.

Farhat also made 46 off 52 balls hitting eight fours. He was stumped by Sangakkara off Dilshan. Younis Khan also fell to a brilliant stumping from Sangakkara off Muralitharan for 25.

Yousuf mixed patience with aggression in his 53 runs that came off 73 balls including six boundaries, reports the AP.

D.M.

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Author`s name: Editorial Team