Rajapaksa and de Silva star in Sri Lanka T20 series win over Pakistan

Sri Lanka's Nuwan Pradeep celebrates
©Reuters
 

The Sri Lankan cricket team received a tremendous boost by beating Pakistan, the top-ranking T20 side in the world, under the lights at the Gaddafi Stadium, Lahore today. The youthful Sri Lankan side played out of their skins to achieve a second successive win within three days to win the series. The 35-run margin was a clear illustration of their domination, to the disappointment of the home crowd.

Match Summary

Sri Lanka 182 – 6 (Bhanuka Rajapaksa 77)

Pakistan 147 (Nuwan Pradeep 4-25, Wanindu Hasaranga de Silva 3-38)

Result - Sri Lanka won by 35 runs

Scorecard

The defeat at the hands of young Sri Lanka team in the opening match in one’s own backyard was a bit of a shocker for Pakistan. The two changes the home side made was to bring explosive opening batsman Fakhar Zaman for all-rounder Iftikhar Ahmed and Wahab Riaz for another all-rounder Faheem Ashraf. The selection of specialists in a match that Pakistan must win to stay in the series with an added pressure for No.1 ranked team has.

Sri Lanka won the toss and elected to bat first on a pitch that looked full of runs with a 6.30pm local time start. In the first half of their innings the tourists had reached 80-2 off 10 overs and 100 in 11.1 overs. One down, left-handed Bhanuka Rajapaksa was positive from the word go and his power hitting reminded all of the great Sri Lankan, Sanath Jayasuriya. Freeing his arm to play a series of attacking orthodox strokes, he was very severe on width offered by erratic Pakistan bowling.

In the 11th over from Shadab Khan and 14th over off Mohammad Hasnain Rajapaksa hit two sixes and was on a rampage. He had Shehan Jayasuriya (34 off 28 balls) as his partner in 94-run third wicket stand in no time, was broken through a run out in the 16th over. His punishing 77 came off mere 48 balls and included 4 fours and 6 sixes, when caught in the deep of Shadab’s wide googly. After his dismissal Sri Lanka’s late order, helped by Mohammad Amir’s three wides in the 19th over that went for 13 crucial runs and end with 182-6. Imad Wasim (1-27) was the only bowler to finish with respectable figures to his name, amongst Pakistan bowlers.

The weight of expectation was telling on Pakistan, number one T20 side in the world, in the field. Now its batsmen were asked to chase a stiff target against a discipled bowling and a very agile fielding unit. Fakhar’s bizzare dismissal did not help the matters and Babar Azam’s slog too looked horrible as Sri Lanka claimed two key match winners. The seamers were very much on top as the score reached 27-2 after 5 overs.

Pakistan captain Sarfaraz, a stone or so lighter since working hard on his fitness after the World Cup in England and now under great pressure, started well. The fifty of the innings came up with a straight six down the ground by Ahmed Shehzad, only to misread a googly and bowled all ends up by wrist spinner de Silva. The very next ball, Umar Akmal, attempting an ill-advised backfoot cut to a pitched-up delivery, was out leg-before for second successive first-ball duck in the series. As not enough damage had been done Sarfaraz, with a fine 26 off 16 balls to his credit, too chose a wrong ball to cut and was bowled in the same over. What an over from 22-year old slow bowler from Galle.

At the half stage, Pakistan had limped to 68-5, still needing an improbable 115 from the remaining 10 overs. Sri Lanka hot favourites to clinch the series at this stage with two big hitters – Asif Ali and Imad Wasim – at the crease, to deal with. The hundred of the Pakistan innings and fifty run partnership off 36 balls, came in 13.2 overs as the momentum shifted towards the batting side.

Despite some brave hitting by both Asif and Imad, Pakistan still required 66 off the last 5 overs. Imad’s 47 off 29 balls with 6 fours had given his side a slight edge but his dismissal by Udana, courtesy of a clever bowling, tilted the scales in favour of Sri Lanka. It was all left to Asif Ali who despite a spirited 29 off 27 balls just could not save his side from a defeat. Sri Lanka fully deserved their momentous series win.

Pakistan - Babar Azam, Fakhar Zaman, Ahmed Shehzad, Umar Akmal, Sarfaraz Ahmed(c)(wk), Asif Ali, Imad Wasim, Shadab Khan, Mohammad Amir, Mohammad Hasnain, Wahab Riaz

Sri Lanka - Danushka Gunathilaka, Avishka Fernando, Bhanuka Rajapaksa, Dasun Shanaka(c), Shehan Jayasuriya, Isuru Udana, Wanindu Hasaranga, Minod Bhanuka(wk), Lakshan Sandakan, Nuwan Pradeep, Kasun Rajitha

©Cricket World 2019