Umar Gul sliced through the Sri Lanka top order on Thursday to set up an untroubled six-wicket win for Pakistan in a rain-shortened first one-day international (ODI) at the Pallakele Stadium.
Paceman Gul finished with three for 24, in a modest Sri Lanka total of 135 for eight off 42 overs. Pakistan reached 135 for four off 34.1 overs to win on the Duckworth-Lewis method.
Sri Lanka, who opted to bat on a difficult pitch after winning the toss, had their innings interrupted three times by rain and lost half their side for 41 runs by the 15th over.
Their first boundary off the bat did not come until the 12th over, but by then they had lost the wickets of Mahela Jayawardene (3), Tillakaratne Dilshan (5) and Dinesh Chandimal (0) to man-of-the-match Gul.
Both Gul and Sohail Tanvir were brilliant in their opening spells, bowling a tight line and length and moving the ball both ways. Sohail created the pressure and Gul reaped the harvest.
Pakistan kept up the pressure when their third seamer, Mohammad Sami, picked up the wickets of Kumar Sangakkara for nine and Angelo Mathews for a duck in his first two overs. He went on to take three for 19.
Lahiru Thirimanne and Nuwan Kulasekara restored some stability to the batting, putting together a partnership of 50 for the eighth wicket.
Thirimanne finished as the top scorer in the match with an unbeaten 42. Extras (31, including 23 wides) were second in the Sri Lanka innings.
Pakistan’s target score under the Duckworth-Lewis method was 135 and, despite losing two early wickets for 27, they played risk-free cricket to get home.
Opener Mohammad Hafeez made 37 and, after his departure, captain Misbah-ul-Haq (30) played a steady innings along with Umar Akmal (36 not out) to take Pakistan virtually over the line with a stand of 55.
Misbah was run out with Pakistan requiring two runs for victory and Shahid Afridi scored the winning runs.
The second ODI is scheduled at the same venue today.