DAMBULLA, Sri Lanka: Pakistan captain Shahid Afridi narrowly failed to take his team to victory over Sri Lanka with an heroic century in the opening match of the Asia Cup Tuesday.
After scoring 242 for nine, Sri Lanka reduced Pakistan to 32 for four before Afridi launched his counter-attack.
He struck seven sixes and eight fours in 109 from 76 balls but was badly handicapped by cramp after reaching 92 and hobbled his last 17 runs. Following his dismissal Pakistan succumbed for 226.
Afridi was particularly severe on Muttiah Muralittharan, hitting the veteran off-spinner for five of his sixes.
Muralidaran, who conceded 71 from his 10 overs, gained his revenge when wicketkeeper Kumar Sangakkara brought off an outstanding reflex catch.
Fast bowler Lasith Malinga then took three wickets for four runs off 11 balls on his way to a maiden five-wicket one-day haul.
Pakistan fast bowler Shoaib Akhtar celebrated his return to the national team after a break of 13 months by taking three for 41 after Sri Lanka had won the toss and batted first.
Akhtar broke through in the seventh over when opener Upul Tharanga was caught at slip for 11. In his third spell he captured the wickets of Chamara Kapugedera (2) and Farveez Maharoof (1) as Sri Lanka slumped from 150 for three to 168 for seven.
Angelo Mathews, with an unbeaten 55 off 61 balls, ensured Sri Lanka got past 200. He added 71 with Nuwan Kulasekara (14) and Lasith Malinga (16).
Sri Lanka`s top order was held together by the experienced pair of Sangakkara and Mahela Jayawardene, who shared a third wicket partnership of 83 off 102 balls. Sangakkara scored 42 and Jayawardene was unlucky to be given out lbw on 54 when he reverse-swept Shoaib Malik and appeared to get an inside edge on to his pad.
BDST: 1032hrs, June 16, 2010