After a nail-biter in Abu Dhabi on Friday, many had anticipated the Lahore encounter to go down the wire, but Pakistan registered a comfortable 36-run win over Sri Lanka to complete a T20I whitewash over the Islanders in the three-match series.
Pakistan had made two changes to their side, replacing Ahmed Shehzad and Usman Khan Shinwari with Umar Amin and Mohammad Amir. Sri Lanka – 2-0 down in the series – handed Chathuranga de Silva his T20I debut.
The introduction of Amin at the top of the order helped Pakistan in constructing a fifty-run stand for the first-wicket, but it came at a sluggish pace. Left-handed Amin proved his selection right with a 37-ball 45 that provided the platform for Shoaib Malik to propel Pakistan to a daunting 180/3 with a quickfire 51.
Sri Lanka lost opener Dilshan Munaweera in just the second over to a scorching Mohammad Amir in-dipper that thudded into his off-stump. The visitors put up a lackluster show from there on. A 36-run stand between Mahela Udawatta and Dasun Shanaka promised a Lankan fightback but after the former ballooned Fahim Ashraf’s short-pitched delivery to Babar Azam at mid-wicket, Shanaka was left longing for a reliable partner, with his maiden T20I fifty going in vain.
Fakhar Zaman’s poor run with the bat stretched into the current T20I. He struggled to middle the ball and those that hit the meaty parts of the bat found fielders inside the circle. He struck three boundaries in his 27-ball-long innings which had a comical conclusion.
On the last ball of the eighth over, off-spinner Dilshan Munaweera hit Zaman’s off-stump. What should have been a simple bowled was sent upstairs for a review as the on-field umpires Ahsan Raza and Ahmed Shahab felt wicketkeeper Sadeera Samarawickrama had dislodged the bails with his gloves. When a replay confirmed it to be a legal dismissal, the giant screen at the jam-packed Gaddafi stadium displayed a ‘Not Out’ sign which was welcomed with a huge roar, but was short-lived. Zaman walked off the field moments later.
Shoaib Malik had never scored a T20I fifty on his home soil. When he walked in to bat in the 13th over, Pakistan were in dire need of a shift in gears. A 34-run partnership for the second wicket between Umar Amin and Babar Azam had provided the desired stability, but a run-rate ashade above 7 an over demanded more. Shoaib Malik obliged with his 24-ball 51.
After he had picked up a single from all of his first six balls, Malik spanked Isuru Udana for a towering six over the long-off fence. He followed up with two back to back fours, and brought up his fifty in the last over of the innings with a six over the midwicket boundary.
Pakistan saw Mohammad Amir, drafted in the side in place of an unfit Usman Khan Shinwari, play an international fixture at home for the first time and he bowled impeccably for his four wickets, which magnified the gap between the two sides.
Ahsan Iftikhar Nagi tweets here