Sharjah: Pakistan displayed their batting might and accurate bowling to outplay Sri Lanka and reach the semi-finals of the on Saturday.
Playing at the Sharjah Cricket Stadium, Pakistan piled on 279 for 9 through their in-form skipper Sami Aslam, who led the way through 95 runs.
In tandem with opener Imam-ul-Haq (82), Aslam put on 177 in 36.6 overs. Kamran Ghulam chipped in with a valuable 52.
Sri Lanka were bowled out for 158 runs in 42.3 overs despite opener Sadeera Samarawickrama’s 51 and Priyamal Perera’s 68.
Except for Hashen Ramanayake (12), all the other batsmen did not reach double figures.
Speaking to Gulf News, Ali Zia, the manager of the Pakistan team, said afterwards: “Victories are always sweet and especially if it is a win to clinch us a place in the semi-final of a World Cup, then it becomes special. This win is very satisfying as it is the result of our team’s hard work.”
How did it feels for the team to find arch rivals India would not be their opponents in the final following their loss to England?
Zia said: “India was a strong side and so we will play England giving our best as the team that plays well on that day really matters. It does not matter who our opponents are in the semi-finals as our aim will be to stick to our game plan and try to execute it.”
Pakistan had won the toss and elected to bat. With both their openers in top form, they went for their shots.
Aslam hit eight boundaries and two sixes, while Haq hadt one six and seven boundaries. Binura Fernando ended the opening partnership by picking the wicket of Aslam. He went on to bag four wickets for 56 runs backed by Anuk Fernando with two wickets.
Sri Lanka kept losing wickets regularly from the start. Left-arm medium pacer Zia-ul-Haq clean bowled Hashan Dumindu, who had cracked a century against the UAE, for a duck. Their in0form batsman and skipper Kusal Mendis got run out for 1. Hashen Ramanayake also followed him back to the pavilion after being run out for 12.
Samarawickrama and Perera steered Sri Lanka past the 100-run mark in the 23rd over, but leg spinner Karamat Ali had Samarawickrama stumped for 51. After Haq bowled Perera for 68, the Sri Lanka innings folded quickly.
Pakistan 279 for 9 in 50 overs (Sami Aslam 95, Imam Ul Haq 82, Kamran Ghulam 52, Binura Fernando 4 for 56, Anuk Fernando 2 for 45). Sri Lanka (Sadeera Samarawickrama 51, Priyamal Perera 68, Zia Ul Haq 2 for 36, Karamat Ali 2 for 41, Zafar Gohar 2 for 39, Kamran Ghulam 2 for 19)
Player of the match: Sami Aslam.