Published: Saturday, 14 December 2013 10:26
Sri Lanka maintained their number one status in the world T20 rankings, as they beat Pakistan by 24 runs to square the two match series in Dubai.
Pakistan won the toss yet again, and Mohammad Hafeez had no hesitation in asking Sri Lanka to bat first. The dew in Dubai had been a significant factor in the first game, hampering the bowling side during the second innings, and Pakistan would have hoped for more of the same. It came much earlier this time around however, and the men in green soon found themselves needing to bring the towels out early in the Lankan innings. The dew was not their biggest concern however, as the Sri Lankan openers got off to a rollicking start, taking apart Pakistan’s young seamers before moving on to feast on the spinners who were struggling to make an impact similar to the first game.
Kusal Perera started proceedings of by taking on debutant Usman Khan from the very first over. He was fortunate to survive a run out opportunity in that same over, but thereafter continued in good vein, attacking the Pakistani bowling. He was joined in the onslaught by Tillakaratne Dilshan, who pulled off a couple of outrageous dilscoops on his way to a score of 48. He was finally caught in the deep while attempting a reverse slog sweep, bringing an end to a hundred run opening stand for Sri Lanka.
Sri Lanka showed good flexibility in their batting order, and Seekuge Prasanna was sent in at number three. Prasanna who came into the side in place of Ajantha Mendis blasted a quick 21 off 8 deliveries before Kumar Sangakkara joined Kusal Perera to take apart the Pakistani attack in the final overs. The last eight overs brought about 112 runs, and Sri Lanka ended up on an imposing 211 for 3 at close. Kusal Perera scored a career best 84 off 59 with Sangakkara also unbeaten on 44 off 21.
Even with the heavy dew around, Pakistan faced a daunting task when they came out to bat. Opener Sharjeel Khan hit 50 off 24 to keep Pakistan within reach of the required rate, but the rest of the top order failed to contribute, and some poor strokes and excellent fielding found them stuttering at 87 for 6. Shahid Afridi then hit a quick 28 before being dismissed courtesy a brilliant catch by Kumar Sangakkara. Sri Lanka will have expected his wicket to be the final straw for the Pakistanis, but tail ender Sohail Tanvir batted beautifully, taking advantage of some poor bowling by Sri Lanka who seemed to have taken the foot off Pakistan’s throat. Thisara Perera in particular, was treated harshly as Tanvir along with Saeed Ajmal put up a record 63 run stand for the 9th wicket, leaving Pakistan very much within reach of the target. They had lost too many wickets however, and one very good penultimate over by Lasith Malinga, which yielded only two runs and scalped the wicket of Tanvir, all but sealed Pakistans fate. They were dismissed for 187 in the final over, surprisingly only 24 runs short of the target they had been set. For Sri Lanka, Sachithra Senanayake impressed with three wickets from his four overs.
The victory ensures that Sri Lanka maintain their number one ranking in T20, and also squared the series 1- 1. Kusal Perera was named Man of the Match for his knock, while Shahid Afridi was adjudged man of the series.
Sri Lanka 211 for 3 (Perera 84, Dilshan 48, Sangakkara 44*) beat Pakistan 187 (Sharjeel 50, Senanayake 3-27) by 24 runs