Mathews stars in Sri Lanka’s series-clinching win


Angelo Mathews hammered a brisk 80 not out as Sri Lanka posted a thrilling two-wicket victory over Pakistan in the fifth and final one-day international in Colombo on Monday to clinch the series 3-1.
Mathews smashed two sixes and four boundaries in his 76-ball knock to help his team achieve a 248-run target with two balls to spare in the day-night match. One game was abandoned due to rain.
Sri Lanka needed 15 runs to win in the last over bowled by paceman Mohammad Sami before Mathews completed the win with a four.
Dinesh Chandimal was the other main scorer for Sri Lanka with 54.
Paceman Sohail Tanvir bagged three wickets and leg-spinner Shahid Afridi two to reduce Sri Lanka to 138-6 before Mathews received valuable support from Jeevan Mendis (19) and Nuwan Kulasekara (10 not out) to steer his team home.
“I haven’t had the opportunity to bat since the first game, but I was ready. I am glad I did it today in front of an amazing crowd,” said Mathews, who was named man of the match.
Afridi removed well-set Kumar Sangakkara (40) and skipper Mahela Jayawardene off successive balls to put pressure on Sri Lanka.
Sangakkara, who was dropped on 25 by wicket-keeper Sarfraz Ahmed off Sami, failed to capitalise on the chance as he could add 15 more runs.
Ahmed made amends when he smartly stumped Sangakkara off Afridi, who then held a return catch off his next ball to dismiss Jayawardene.
“It was a great game. The whole series was fantastic. We had to dig deep at times and today was no different,” said Jayawardene.
Tanvir jolted Sri Lanka when he removed openers Tillakaratne Dilshan and Upul Tharanga, but Sangakkara and Chandimal put on 78 for the third wicket.
“The way Mathews played he took the game away from us,” said Pakistan captain Misbah-ul-Haq.
“We were 15-20 runs short and again the fielding let us down. We have to forget this and improve our performance in the Tests.”
Pakistan’s opener Imran Farhat, playing his first one-dayer in four months, earlier cracked an impressive 56 and Umar Akmal an unbeaten 55.
Pakistan batted steadily after losing out-of-form opener Mohammad Hafeez (six), with Azhar Ali (30) and Farhat adding 60 for the second wicket and then Akmal putting on 61 for the fifth wicket with Misbah (32).
Akmal smashed two sixes and five fours in a 61-ball knock for his 15th half-century in one-dayers.
Hafeez, who was bowled by paceman Kulasekara, scored just 20 runs in his last four one-dayers.
Farhat dominated the Sri Lankan attack in the initial overs, twice hitting Kulasekara for three fours in an over.
He fell pulling seamer Thisara Perera to deep mid-wicket where he was caught by Chandimal after smashing nine fours in his 12th half-century in one-day internationals.
Leg-spinner Mendis, playing his first match of the series, was the most impressive bowler with 2-30 while Kulasekara finished with 2-53.
Sri Lanka made one change from the team which won the last match by 44 runs on Saturday, replacing Sajeewa Weerakoon with Mendis.
Pakistan brought in Farhat and Sami in place of Younis Khan and off-spinner Saeed Ajmal.
Sri Lanka and Pakistan will now play a three-Test series, starting in Galle on Friday.