Credit to the vanquished. Sri Lanka showed the will to fight, and it could have gone either way. But kudos to the winners for an all-round show. Pakistan produced one of their better chases, to win the match by five wickets with ten balls to spare. All the batsman, from the openers Fakhar Zaman to sixth down Iftikhar Ahmed batted with a sense of purpose. But the highlight of the match was Sri Lankan opener Danushka Gunathilaka, who scored 133 off 134 balls, to help the visitors post a fighting total. Shame that the series was reduced to a two-match shoot out after the first match was abandoned. Pakistan take it 2-0. Both sides will face off in a three-match T20I series in the next seven days at Lahore.
Abid Ali, who scored a blistering 74 off 67 balls, won the man of the match award while team-mate Babar Azam picked the man of the series award for his 115 in the second match and 31 tonight.
Here's how the day started:
10 years, that's the recurring theme in Pakistan cricket these days. A decade is a very long time in any field. Stars blossom and fade away in lesser time periods. With little more concerted effort, this theme can be translated into an ever-lasting, beautiful narrative, controlled by cricket. Without Pakistan, cricket will never be complete. To start with, on Monday, the ‘international cricket,’ the One-Day Internationals to be precise, returned to Pakistan. That can be read as the first chapter.
Last time the 1992 World Champions hosted an international series was way back in the Noughties, against the same opponents. Though, there was another series in between, in 2015 against Zimbabwe. But not many thought it was worthy of giving much thought, considering obvious reasons. By the way, they won it 2-1, but lost the preceding series, against Sri Lanka 1-2 with the visitors winning the finale at Lahore, where three Twenty20 Internationals will be played between Pakistan and Sri Lanka in the next seven days. With so little international cricket happening in Pakistan, it is sometimes necessary to hark back to action-filled days, which will give a sense of continuity.
And here's how it has continued, after a ten-year break. The first one got rained off, then Sarfaraz Ahmed & Co. produced a clinical performance, making everyone forget their pathetic World Cup outing. Now they are ready to tame the Lions again. In the second match, Babar Azam became the third-fastest batsman to score 11 ODI centuries, taking just 71 innings, behind South Africans – Hashim Amla (61) and Quinton de Kock (65). He could have won the man of the match award for bettering India captain Virat Kohli (82) in that particular race, considering the contempt et al. But it went to left-arm pacer Usman Shinwari, who claimed his second five-wicket haul.
For the visitors, gloom is the word that best defined their tour so far. They arrived in Pakistan on a gloomy day after a gloomy preparation then the gloom turned into despair. 300ish targets are normal these days. But at the first time of asking after whitewashing Bangladesh 3-0 at home, Sri Lankans found themselves in a pitiable situation – 5/28 in 61 balls. Then, as in every other gloomy tale, a silver lining flirted with them. The score became 205 without losing further wicket with a different Jayasuriya and Dasun Shanaka stitching a match-high stand of 177 runs. Then, believe it or not, petulant floodlights conspired against them at the National Stadium. Soon after two stoppages due to darkness, both the set batsmen got out, and it was all over in a jiffy. Expect another drama-filled match between two former World Champions today at Karachi.
Catch highlights and cricket score of match here: