Sri Lanka beat Pakistan, clinch Asia Cup

Mirpur (Bangladesh), March 8: Lahiru Thirimanne’s well-constructed century guided Sri Lanka to the Asia Cup title Saturday, drubbing defending champions Pakistan by five wickets in the final at the Sher-e-Bangla National Stadium here Saturday.

Pursuing 261, Sri Lanka chased down the target in 46.2 overs with the help of a 156-run third-wicket partnership between seasoned Mahela Jayawardene (75) and Thirimanne (101), who completed his third One-Day International (ODI) century.

Earlier, Sri Lankan paceman and Man-of-theMatch Lasith Malinga restricted Pakistan to 260/5 by taking the sixth five-wicket haul of his career with figures of 5-56.

Sri Lanka got off to a good start with the two left-handed openers – Kusal Perera (42) and Thirimanne – reaching 56 for no loss by the 10th over. But Pakistan off spinner Saeed Ajmal rose to the occasion by taking the wickets of Perera and experienced Kumar Sangakkara (0) on back-to-back deliveries.

The wickets slowed down the run rate but Mahila Jayawardene and Thirimanne held the innings together and slowly guided them closer to victory.

Jayawardene finally perished with the score at 212 after playing a responsible knock, which included nine boundaries and a six, but Thirimanne held on.

The left hander got out after scoring his hundred with victory just 14 runs away. Skipper Angelo Matthews (16 not out) hit the winning runs.

Ajmal was the pick of the Pakistani bowlers, taking 3-26 in his 10 overs.

Earlier, Fawad Alam’s maiden hundred powered Pakistan to 260/5. The left-handed batsman’s 114 not out rescued Pakistan from a precarious 18/3 and took them to a fighting total.

Alam and captain Misbah-ul-Haq (65) shared a 122-run stand for the fourth wicket to take the defending champions out of trouble. Then wicketkeeper-batsman Umar Akmal (59) joined Alam and provided the much-needed impetus the Pakistani innings lacked.

Malinga was only wicket-taker while all-rounder Mathews was the most economical, giving away just 23 runs in seven overs.

Brief scores: Pakistan: 260/5 in 50 overs (Fawad Alam 114 not out, Misbah-ul-Haq 65, Umar Akmal 59; Lasith Malinga 5/56) lost to Sri Lanka 261/5 in 46.2 overs (Lahiru Thirimanne 101, Mahela Jayawardene 75, Kusal Perera 42; Saeed Ajmal 3/26).

IANS