Chandimal leads Sri Lanka to fifth ODI victory
Dinesh Chandimal notched a half century for the first time in 11 months and carried Sri Lanka to a thrilling two-wicket victory over Pakistan in the fifth and final one-day international on Friday.
Chandimal, who scored his last ODI fifty against Australia in January, made a composed unbeaten 64 off 70 balls with just one four and a six as he put on a match-winning 40-run stand with No. 10 batsman Ajantha Mendis (19 not out) to guide his team to 235-8 in 49.4 overs.
Pakistan, which clinched the series 3-2, was bowled out for 232 with Lasith Malinga (4-57) finally making an impact after taking just two wickets in the previous four matches.
Captain Misbah-ul-Haq top scored with 51 for his 15th half century of 2013 and finished the year as the leading scorer in limited-overs cricket.
"I'm over the moon," Chandimal said. "Credit goes to Mendis at the end to help us get through as sometimes I was a bit nervous."
Sri Lanka looked to have spoiled a perfect start of 75 runs by their openers Kusal Perera (47) and Tillakaratne Dilshan (45) when it limped to 195-8 in the 46h over.
Chandimal and Mendis swung the game in Sri Lanka's favor when they hit a six each off Umar Gul's 49th over before Mendis, playing his first match of the series, hit the winning boundary off Anwar Ali over extra cover to finish off the game.
"We really fought well, but it just slipped in the last three overs," Misbah said. "The pitch was a bit slow, but still we were 20-25 runs short. The bowlers did well to pull back the game, but a few lapses in the field cost us ultimately."
Perera hit three fours and four sixes in a blistering start to Sri Lanka run-chase before he was out plumb leg before wicket while trying reverse sweep off Mohammad Hafeez.
Dilshan became the sixth Sri Lankan batsman to complete 8,000 runs in one-day internationals when he reached 31 but top edged a pull shot off Junaid Khan (3-31), who also uprooted Kumar Sangakkara's leg stump (22).
Pakistan spinners choked the middle and lower order with some superb tidy bowling by Saeed Ajmal (2-43) and a miserly bowled 10-over spell of Abdul Rehman (0-38) as they lost last three wickets in space of six runs before Chandimal and Malinga got them through.
"Once again, a little disappointed with the batsmen who got starts but didn't go from there," Sri Lanka captain Angelo Mathews said. "Mendis came to the party, along with Chandimal, and got us over the line."
Earlier, Mathews lost the toss but led from the front with the new ball and preserved Malinga until the first batting powerplay. Opening batsman Ahmed Shehzad (17) hit Suranga Lakmal for a four and a six off successive deliveries before playing an expansive shot and holed out at mid-on in the sixth over.
Malinga was guilty of bowling too full in the previous four matches and conceded 10 runs in his first over but varied his pace intelligently by having struggling Sharjeel Khan caught and bowled off a slower ball in the next over.
Malinga struck again when Sohaib Maqsood was splendidly caught two-handedly by Tillakaratne Dilshan before Misbah and in-form Mohammad Hafeez (41) steadied the innings with a 58-run stand.
Hafeez, who struck three centuries in the series, was bowled by Mathews in his return spell off a delivery that kept low and knocked back the off stump. Hafeez finished the series with 448 runs in five innings.
Malinga removed Misbah soon after the Pakistan captain reached his half century with a six, when wicketkeeper Sangakkara plucked a fine low catch to his left.
Pakistan was in sight of being dismissed for less than 200 until Anwar Ali (41 not out) and Ajmal added 32 runs off 23 balls for the ninth wicket, including 16 off Malinga's last over. Lakmal closed the innings by claiming the last two wickets off successive deliveries with three balls to spare.
Both teams now play three-test series, starting at Abu Dhabi from Dec. 31.