PALLEKELE, June 8: Pacemen Umar Gul and Mohammad Sami each took three wickets as Pakistan posted a comfortable six-wicket win over Sri Lanka in the first one-day international in Pallekele on Thursday.
Man-of-the-match Gul finished with 3-24 and Sami with 3-19 before Pakistan achieved a rain-revised target of 135 with more than seven overs to spare in the day-night match for a 1-0 lead in the five-match series.
The duo helped Pakistan restrict the hosts to 135-8 in a match reduced to 42-overs-a-side due to the poor conditions.
Opener Mohammad Hafeez top-scored with 37, while Umar Akmal (36 not out) and skipper Misbah-ul-Haq (30) were the other main scorers as Pakistan recorded their ninth one-day win over Sri Lanka in their last 11 matches.
Misbah added 51 runs for the third wicket with Hafeez after two wickets had fallen for 27 and then 55 for the fourth with Akmal.
Pakistan´s win was set up by bowlers in seaming conditions as Gul took three wickets in a sharp opening spell, removing skipper Mahela Jayawardene, Tillakaratne Dilshan and Dinesh Chandimal to send Sri Lanka reeling at 23-3.
"The conditions were really difficult for batting as there was a lot of moisture in the wicket. It was a good toss to lose," said Misbah.
"We have got world-class spinners and whenever the fast bowlers get these conditions they come good."
Gul was superbly backed by Sami, who dismissed Kumar Sangakkara and all-rounder Angelo Mathews in his first two overs to reduce the hosts to 41-5.
Lahiru Thirimanne, who added 50 for the eighth wicket with Nuwan Kulasekara (18), top-scored for Sri Lanka with an unbeaten 42 while extras contributed 31, the second-highest of the innings.
Thisara Perera (17) and Upul Tharanga (10) were the other batsmen to reach double-figures.
"It was important we put up a decent score," said Jayawardene.
Pakistan cricket captain Misbah-ul-Haq (C) and teammate Mohammad Hafeez (R) run between the wickets during the opening one-day international (ODI) match between Sri Lanka and Pakistan at the Pallekele International Cricket Stadium in Pallekele. Pakistan defeated Sri Lanka by six wickets in the opening one-day international in Pallekele on Thursday to take a 1-0 lead in the five-match series.Photo:AFP
"I think 190-200 would have been a decent score but credit to Pakistan, they came strong at us."
Sangakkara, who took 20 deliveries to open his account, made just nine runs before being trapped leg-before while Mathews was caught at first slip by Misbah for no score.
Off-spinner Hafeez bagged two of the last three wickets to finish with an impressive 2-20 off 10 overs.
Gul struck in his third over when he had opener Dilshan (five) caught by Saeed Ajmal at mid-on and then trapped Jayawardene (three) leg-before in his next over.
He put more pressure on Sri Lanka when he bowled Chandimal for no score in his fifth over.
The second one-dayer will also be played in Pallekele on Saturday and the last three games in Colombo on June 13, 16 and 18.
The one-dayers will be followed by a three-Test series starting on June 22.