- Created on Saturday, 09 June 2012 21:10
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A reshuffled batting order, necessitated by Thursday's batting meltdown, lifted the spirits of a struggling Sri Lanka line-up - Tillakaratne Dilshan was at the forefront of the turnaround, batting through the innings for a century. It was imperative that at least one of the seniors - who were struggling for consistency - batted through, and that coupled with a number of sizeable partnerships helped Sri Lanka to 280, giving them a chance to reverse their poor recent record against Pakistan.
The restructured line-up, which had Mahela Jayawardene drop to No.5, gave Sri Lanka a greater sense of security. Upul Tharanga returned to the position he's best known for, while Dinesh Chandimal was sandwiched between two experienced players to ease the pressure off his shoulders. It led to an efficient batting effort, led by Dilshan, who dropped anchor and batted with the intention of playing 50 overs. The foundation he provided allowed the likes of Jayawardene the freedom to innovate in the slog overs.
A drier pitch, devoid of the moisture present in the first game, made life easier for the batsmen, allowing them to play across the line with more freedom. Two boundaries whipped off the pads early on gave Dilshan the confidence to settle in and take on a leadership role at the top of the order. After looking like a walking wicket in the first ODI, he was more sure of his off stump and was prepared to leave deliveries angling across him. Sohail Tanvir troubled him with a few that beat the bat, but he played out his spell and cashed in when debutant left-arm seamer Rahat Ali strayed too wide of the off stump.
Dilshan shared shared stands of 37 and 47 with Tharanga and Kumar Sangakkara respectively. It was a chance for Sangakkara to find form, but off Mohammad Hafeez's first ball, he lobbed a simple return catch, foxed by a delivery that stopped on him.
Dinesh Chandimal and Dilshan ensured the run-rate didn't drop after that dismissal, knocking away the singles and scoring boundaries when the spinners in particular erred in length. Chandimal couldn't resist the slog, one of his favourite shots, and survived a couple of lbw shouts against the spinners. Shahid Afridi tried firing the ball in, looking to strike the pads, but the pair read the angle and nudged it away down to fine leg. A sweep off Afridi brought up Dilshan's fifty.
Afridi trapped Chandimal lbw but there was no respite for Pakistan as what followed was Sri Lanka's most productive partnership, of 86. Jayawardene, no stranger to unconventional shots, unsettled the spinners with a delicate late cut, scoop, paddle sweep and conventional sweep. He chastised himself for failing to upper cut a bouncer off Umar Gul, but made up for it with a textbook cover drive off the same bowler. A reverse sweep, off Saeed Ajmal, brought up his fifty. The bowler had the final say when he knocked the off stump when Jayawardene made too much room.
Dilshan nudged and punched the singles during the stand, allowing Jayawardene to play the aggressor. Dilshan started tiring after the batting Powerplay, searching for the boundaries but failing to get the ball past the infield. He hit just two boundaries between the 37th and 50th overs, including the only six of the match, off Tanvir. After getting to his century in the 43rd over, he managed only 19 in the remaining seven. It didn't cause a general slowdown because Jayawardene and later Thisara Perera were around to ensure a healthy score.