Seamers Thilan Thushara and Nuwan Kulasekera ripped through Pakistan’s top order as Sri Lanka won the first one-day international by 36 runs yesterday.
Left-armer Thushara finished with 3-29 and Kulasekera took 2-30 as Pakistan struggled against Sri Lanka’s 232-9 and were bowled out for 196 in 44.4 overs at the Rangiri International Stadium.
The tourists, beaten 2-0 in the preceding Test series, slipped to 134-8 before tailenders Umar Gul and Mohammad Aamer boosted the total with a rollicking ninth-wicket stand of 62 runs.
Gul top-scored for Pakistan with 33 off 21 balls, including four boundaries in one over from fast bowler Lasith Malinga. Teenager Aamer made 23.
The pair took the total to 196-8 when both batsmen fell in the space of two deliveries to hand Sri Lanka the lead in the five-match series. Aamer was run out by a direct throw from Mahela Jayawardene, before Gul was bowled by Malinga next ball.
Earlier, Sri Lanka recovered from their own top order failure to post a competitive 232-9.
The hosts had collapsed to 131-6 by the 34th over after Pakistan captain Younus Khan won the toss and elected to field in overcast conditions.
All-rounder Angelo Mathews (43) led the late revival, with the last four Sri Lankan wickets adding 101 valuable runs before the 50 overs ran out.
Star spinner Muttiah Muralitharan, who missed the preceding Test series with a knee injury, marked his return with an aggressive 32 off 15 balls that included four boundaries and a six.
Sri Lanka were unable to build partnerships against the accurate Pakistan attack, which reveled on the slow wicket.
Veteran Sanath Jayasuriya failed to take advantage of two dropped catches and fell for 15, while opening partner Upul Tharanga struggled to make 17.
Skipper Kumar Sangakkara hit 36 and Jayawardene scored 33 in his 300th one-day international, but none of the other top order batsmen settled in.
The second match is at the same venue tomorrow.
■RAIN DELAYS ASHES
AFP, BIRMINGHAM, ENGLAND
Rain meant there was no play before lunch on the first day of the third Ashes Test between England and Australia at Edgbaston yesterday.
Although the skies were clear at the scheduled start time of 11am, a sodden outfield made wet by persistent rain on Wednesday meant umpires Aleem Dar and Rudi Koertzen ruled conditions unfit for play.
Several subsequent bursts of rain ruled out any hope of the match starting in a first session where the pitch and square were, for the most part, kept under extensive covering.
England lead the five-match series 1-0 after their 115-run win in the second Test at Lord’s.