Pakistan captain Misbahul Haq will be looking to all-rounder Mohammad Hafeez to turn in another match-winning performance as the hosts look to seal the series in the fourth One-Day International (ODI) against Sri Lanka today, after outplaying them by 21 runs in the third ODI.
Hafeez made a 101-ball 83 and along with fellow-opener Imran Farhat who made an 82-ball 70, gave Pakistan a solid 151-run start, after they had won the toss and batted. He later also picked up an important wicket, which prompted Misbah to declare him as one of the best all-rounders in the game.
“He’s one of the best all-rounders because of the way he’s performed over the last one-and-a-half years,” said the captain. “He’s really doing well in all formats, be it Twenty20s, ODIs or Tests. He can bat, bowl well, and is good at fielding. It’s really a blessing to have him in the team.”
‘My hard work has paid off’
Hafeez was equally elated at his performance.
“I worked very hard on my technique, which has paid off and really given me confidence,” he said. “I’m thankful to my batting coach who really worked hard with me to correct things.
“Bowling is natural for me, I don’t really work hard on it. Basically I’m a batsman, so I can understand batsmen’s psyche while bowling. The confidence given by the management is important. Previously Shahid Afridi was using me well and now Misbah.”
Pakistan bowlers peg down Sri Lanka
Earlier, Pakistan bowlers held their nerve to stop Sri Lanka batsmen from running away with the match.
Umar Gul (three for 48) bowled well to make sure that the good work by spinners Saeed Ajmal (three for 42) and Afridi (two for 42) did not go to waste as they dismissed Sri Lanka for 236 chasing a competitive target of 258.
Sri Lanka were set on course for a win by captain Tillekaratne Dilshan (64) who added 106 runs for the second wicket with Kumar Sangakkara (45).
Afridi and Ajmal then put the brakes on the innings, as Dilshan dragged a leg-break from Afridi onto his stumps. Sangakkara failed to beat a direct throw from Afridi after he set off for a quick single.
‘Sanga’s run out turned the match’
Dilshan felt that Sangakkara’s dismissal changed the complexion of the game.
“The turning point was Sangakkara’s run out and I got out to a bad delivery,” said Dilshan. “Had one of us batted for four more overs we would have clinched the game.”
Misbah also agreed with his counterpart saying that Sri Lanka were well on course for victory before Sangakkara’s dismissal.
Earlier, after the Pakistan openers had gotten their team off to a solid start, Sri Lanka grabbed four wickets for just 26 runs to stage a comeback and restrict Pakistan to 257.
Published in The Express Tribune, November 20th, 2011.
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