Iftikhar’s career-best restricts Sri Lanka to 219

January 20th, 2009 - 6:14 pm ICT by IANS  

Karachi, Jan 20 (IANS) Medium pacer Rao Iftikhar Anjum finished with career-best figures of four for 42 to help Pakistan restrict Sri Lanka to 219 in the first One-day international at the National Stadium here Tuesday.It was Iftikhar’s career-best showing in his second successive match as his previous personal best came in Pakistan’s last ODI against the West Indies in Abu Dhabi in November.

Pakistan’s decision to field four specialist fast bowlers in the match seemed to pay off as pacer Umar Gul also collected three for 30 and the tourists were all out in 45.2 overs. But Pakistan’s comeback fast bowler Shoaib Akhtar failed to collect any wicket on his return after staying out for almost 14 months. Shoaib was unable to produce the sort of pace that once made him the world’s fastest bowler and finished the match with none for 43 off seven overs.

Pakistan were sent on the back foot by Sri Lanka openers — Tilakaratne Dilshan and Sanath Jayasuriya — who scored 71 runs off just 53 balls.

But Gul sent back both the openers, first getting rid of Dilshan (42 off 33 balls) and then trapping the experienced Jayasuriya (38 off 35 balls) leg before.

Rao, 28, scalped Sri Lanka captain Mahela Jayawardene (1) and then took the key wicket of top scorer Kumar Sangakkara (49 off 40 balls) to bring the visitors under pressure.

Sri Lanka were never able to really come back in the match and will now have to rely on their spin partnership of Muttiah Muralitharan and Ajantha Mendis to defend the modest total on what looks like a good batting wicket.

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