Misbah, Younis half-centuries take Pak to 277 for 7

Colombo: Misbah-ul-Haq (unbeaten 83) and Younis Khan (72) hit half-centuries to guide Pakistan to a competitive 277 for seven in their second World Cup league match against Sri Lanka here on Saturday.

Younis and Misbah did the bulk of scoring by sharing 108 runs for the fourth wicket after Pakistan elected to bat in their Group A match at the Premadasa Stadium.

Opener Mohammed Hafeez and wicketkeeper Kamran Akmal contributed 32 and 39 respectively.

Pakistan`s total, however, could not touch the 300-run mark as managed just 68 runs in the last 10 overs despite having seven wickets in hand after the 40th over.

Captain Shahid Afridi contributed 16 from 12 balls and was out in the penultimate over.

Pakistan were off to a good start, scoring 65 in the first 10 overs though they lost the wicket of inexperienced opener Ahmed Shehzad during that time.

Sri Lankan pacemen Nuwan Kulasekara and Thisara Perera were expensive in their first spells of five overs each though the latter removed Shehzad (13) in the sixth over with a delivery that moved away slightly after pitching outside off stump for Kumar Sangakkara to take the edge.

The other opener Mohammad Hafeez then creamed Kulasekara for a six and a four in the next over before one-down Kamran Akmal hit the same bowler for two fours in the same over.

Just as Pakistan were looking to take control of their innings, they lost their second wicket with Hafeez being run out following a horrible mix-up in the 14th over.

Hafeez swept a Muttiah Muralitharan delivery to short fine leg and Kamran ran all the way to the other end without his seeing that his partner was unmoved from his crease.

Sangakkara`s throw went past Muralitharan who was standing at the non-striker`s end and Hafeez, who did not move an inch earlier, thought of running for a fleeting moment but returned back to his crease. Muralitharan dislodged the bail and it was Hafeez who was ruled run out by the umpires.

Run-rate slowed down after the departure of two openers and Pakistan lost another wicket in the 21st over. Kamran unnecessarily charged down the track and missed a Rangana Herath delivery for Sangakkara to remove the bails in a flash.

Pakistan were 105 for three then.

The experienced duo of Younis and Misbah, however, ensured that no further wickets were lost while keeping the scoreboard ticking.

They shunned adventure and runs came mostly in singles by rotating the strike, denying the likes of Muralitharan any success.