Zeenews Sports Bureau
Dubai: Sri Lanka defeated Pakistan by 25 runs in a thriller encounter at the Dubai International stadium courtesy a strong bowling display by the Lankan bowlers.
Chasing a tricky total of 235, Pakistan came ever so close to victory just to falter in the end. Umar Akmal had propelled the host to a formidable position in the chase with a classy and aggressive 91 before Afridi went ballistic during the end overs.
After the early strikes by the Lankan seamers that had reduced Pakistan to 11 for 3 in the fourth over, captain Misbah-ul-haq (21) and Umar Akmal combined well to steady the Pakistan innings.
But the slow Dubai pitch made it harder for the batsmen to score with Umar Akmal being the only exception as the youngster showed great skill to keep Pakistan in the hunt. The three Lankan spinners Mendis, Prasanna and captain Dilshan ensured that the run-rate was kept under check with the pacers reaping the reward in the form of wickets.
Umar Akmal was in tremendous form but the 21-one year old failed to contain his aggression as he was scalped by Dilhara Fernando to make the chase very exciting. After hitting three consecutive fours Akmal tried a fourth one, only to find Dinesh Chandimal at mid-on who took a sharp catch.
Afridi walked in and hit 29 off just 14 deliveries but Sri Lankan captain T Dilshan produced the play of the day to run out the dangerous Afridi with a stellar one hand diving direct hit from point.
This turned the match in favour of Sri Lanka and another direct hit from Sangakkara sent Cheema packing to wrap up Pakistan innings under 210, 26 short of the target.
Earlier, Opener Upul Tharanga and Mahela Jayawardene notched fighting half-centuries to propel Sri Lanka to 235-7 in the second day-night international against Pakistan at Dubai stadium here on Monday.
Tharanga scored 77 while Jayawardene returned to form with 50 as they shared a fourth wicket stand of 85 to lift Sri Lanka, who won the toss and were restricted in the middle overs by a disciplined Pakistan bowling.
The total reflected a big improvement in Sri Lanka`s batting after they were bowled out for a mere 131 during their eight-wicket defeat in the first of a five-match series here last Friday.
Tillakaratne Dilshan and Tharanga gave a solid 56-run start to their team by the 12th over when leg-spinner Shahid Afridi, man-of-the-match in the first match for his 3-27, provided Pakistan with a breakthrough.
Afridi bowled Sri Lanka captain Dilshan with a sharp googley after he had threatened to score big by hitting four attractive boundaries. He fell for a 40-ball 28.
Kumar Sangakkara, who scored 516 in the preceding three-Test series which Pakistan won 1-0, managed just five before paceman Abdul Razzaq caught him off his own bowling, leaving Sri Lanka at 65-2.
It became 3-94 when Dinesh Chandimal (15) fell to off-spinner Saeed Ajmal, leaving Tharanga and Jayawardene to give the innings some respectability.
Tharanga hit eight boundaries during his 120-ball knock before he was caught off Afridi.
Jayawardene, who was lacklustre in the Tests as well as in the first one-dayer, hit five boundaries during his 57-ball knock before he was bowled by Ajmal.
Ajmal finished with 3-61 while Afridi bagged 2-35.
Pakistan kept an unchanged side, but Sri Lanka brought in Thissara Perera and Jeevan Mendis in place of Suranga Lakmal and Kosala Kulasekara.
With PTI inputs