Sri Lanka appoint Farbrace as new head coach

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Promotion: Paul Farbrace is Sri Lanka's new head coach.

Englishman Paul Farbrace, who was wounded in the infamous 2009 terrorist attack on the Sri Lankan team bus, was appointed the head coach of the national side on Friday.

The 46-year-old, who has been recently coaching his former English county side Yorkshire, is replacing South African Graham Ford who had already announced plans to stand down after the ongoing series against Pakistan.

“SLC wishes to thank Yorkshire Cricket Club for being generous enough to release Farbrace for duty in Sri Lanka,” Sri Lanka Cricket said in a statement.

“The commencement of his contract will be in effect from 1st January 2014 for a period of two years,” the board added.

There was no immediate comment from Farbrace, but he told website ESPNcricinfo two months ago that he was flattered to have been approached for the Sri Lanka coaching job.

“It’s nice to know people think I did a good enough job the last time I was there,” he said.

Farbrace, a former assistant coach to the Sri Lankan team under Trevor Bayliss, was wounded along with seven Sri Lankan players in March 2009 when a dozen gunmen opened fire on their bus in Lahore, Pakistan.

He left his post soon after the attack, in which he was struck by a piece of shrapnel in his right arm. His first assignment will be at the Asia Cup in Bangladesh in February.

He will then coach the team at the next World Twenty20, which is also due to be held in Bangladesh in March-April.

Ford’s last assignment with Sri Lanka will be the ongoing series of three Tests, five one-day internationals and two Twenty20 games against Pakistan in the United Arab Emirates.

Under Ford, Sri Lanka were runners- up to the West Indies in the World Twenty20 in 2012 and also won a home Test series against Pakistan.

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Sri Lanka level Pakistan series in Dubai

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Honours even: Karunaratne (R) and Senanayaka celebrate the win in Dubai.

Sri Lanka’s late order batsmen held their nerve to beat Pakistan by two wickets and level the series in a match in which fortunes swung from one side to another in Dubai on Friday.

Set 285 to chase, Sri Lanka needed 16 off the last two overs and four off the final, as number ten batsman Sachitra Senanayake drove Shahid Afridi for boundary to seal a tense win for his team with two balls to spare.

The win levelled the five-match series at 1-1 after Pakistan won the first match by 11 runs in Sharjah on Wednesday.

Ahmed Shehzad smashed a career best 124 off 140 balls for his fourth one-day century as Pakistan posted a challenging 284-4 in 50 overs after being sent in to bat.

Sri Lanka needed 44 off the last six overs as Angelo Mathews (47) and Dimuth Karunaratne (16 not out) held their nerves during a match-turning 44-run stand for the eighth wicket.

Sri Lanka had set themselves up nicely at 159-2 with Kumar Sangakkara (58) and Dinesh Chandimal (44) before Mathews came into his own.

When on 29, Sangakkara completed 12,000 one-day runs in his 359th match. He is the fourth batsmen to score 12,000 or more runs in the one-day chart led by now retired Sachin Tendulkar of India (18,426 in 463 matches) followed by Australian Ricky Ponting (13,704 in 375) and Sri Lankan Sanath Jayasuriya (13,430 in 445).

Sangakkara reached his 82nd half-century off 54 balls but eight runs later played Ajmal onto his stumps.

In all he hit four boundaries and a six off 67 balls. Sri Lanka were off to a swift 48- run start by Tillakaratne Dilshan (40) and Kusal Perera (16) before both was run out to leave Sri Lanka 65-2.

With the ball hard to grip for the spinners as dew fell, Sangakkara and Chandimal added 94 for the third wicket.

Nuwan Kulasekara chipped in with a 33-ball 32 with two sixes and three fours to up the scoring in the final overs. Mathews praised his team’s effort and fightback.

“It was a complete team effort,” said Mathews. “Pakistan were cruising along and were due for another big score but we kept them to 284 and then held our nerves for this win.”

Pakistan captain Misbah-ul Haq said: “We gave away many runs in the final overs and we need to improve our death bowling if we want to win the series.”

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Sri Lanka target series-levelling win in Sharjah

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Heads high: Mathews claims confidence remains strong in the Sri Lankan camp.

Despite a narrow defeat, Sri Lanka will remain positive and high on confidence for Friday's second one-day international against Pakistan, vowed skipper Angelo Mathews.

Pakistan clinched a hard-fought 11-run win in the first day-night international in Sharjah on Wednesday after Sri Lankan tail-enders gave them a serious scare in chasing a daunting 323-run target.

Sri Lanka had nearly lost the match at 221-7 but Seekugge Prasanna (42) and Sachitra Senanayake (42) put on a brave 87-run stand for the eighth wicket — a record for all Pakistan-Sri Lanka one-days — before Pakistan averted an upset.

Mathews said his team put up a good fight.

"It is about being positive and keeping our heads high. We know we have performed well, even though we lost but the confidence is pretty high in the camp and we just want to continue with the same approach," said Mathews after the match.

Pakistan were lifted by a return-to-form 122 by Mohammad Hafeez and 73 by Sohaib Maqsood as well as debutant opener Sharjeel Khan's 61.

Sri Lanka were given a solid start by Kusal Perera (64) and Tillakaratne Dilshan (30) before the middle-order faltered.

But Mathews was happy at his team's resilience.

"I am extremely happy with the way the boys played because I think we witnessed a brilliant game. Yes, we fell short by a few runs but it was very pleasing to see the guys fighting till the end," said Mathews, who termed the Sharja wicket as difficult for bowling.

"The bowlers may retire very soon on such wickets," said Mathews of the flat Sharjah stadium pitch.

"It was very hard for the bowlers, to be honest the wicket it was really a good one for the batters. Credit should go to the Pakistanis' because with the dew they bowled pretty well."

Mathews expects a tough five-match series as well as the three Tests which follow.

"Yes we always expected a very competitive series, the one-dayers and hopefully in the Test matches as well, but we've got the skills and we have the talent in the dressing room and all we need is to get our minds right and go out there and enjoy ourselves," said Mathews.

Pakistan captain Misbah-ul Haq praised his team's batting.

"We put up a good show in batting and Hafeez led the way, but we need to improve our bowling and fielding in the next games," said Misbah.

"It was a close game in the last two, three overs. It was anybody's game but that is the time you need to be positive and we did that."

The remaining matches will be played in Sharjah on Sunday followed by two games in Abu Dhabi next Wednesday and Friday.

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