Mirpur (Bangladesh): Fawad Alam's maiden ODI century enabled Pakistan reach a respectable 260 for five against Sri Lanka after Lasith Malinga made early inroads in the Asia Cup final being played here today.
Opting to bat, Pakistan found themselves tottering for 18 for three as Malinga (5/56) ripped apart the top order but Alam shared two century-plus partnerships with skipper Misbah-ul-Haq and Umar Akmal respectively to prop up their total.
Fawad Alam en route to his century in the Asia Cup final. Pic/AFP
Alam struck eight boundaries and three sixes en route to an unbeaten 114, his first ODI century from 29 matches as he first shared 122 runs with Misbah (65 from 98 balls; 3x4, 2x6) to help Pakistan recover from being 18/3 in 4.3 overs. Alam mostly played in front of the wicket and ran between the wickets hard.
Barring one reprieve he got when he was dropped on 92 by Chaturanga de Silva at midwicket, it was a chanceless innings from Alam, even as Malinga ran with a second five-for against them in the tournament. Having completed his second successive half century from 91 balls,
Alam cruised to the magical three-figure mark in another 35 balls pulling Thisara Perera for a six over midwicket. In Umar Akmal, who struck a 42-ball 59 (7x4) he found a perfect partner and the duo added 115 runs for the fifth wicket, something that ensured Shahid Afridi (0 no) remained stranded without a strike in the final. But that did not matter much from Pakistan's point of view as Alam's spectacular innings helped them post a challenging 261 in their title defence.
First, it was the Lankans' bold strategy to drop out mystery spinner Ajantha Mendis, perhaps in a move to counter Shahid Afridi's belligerent form, that surprised many as they went with a batting combination in the most important match of the tournament.