Pakistan clinched a thrilling, nerve-wrecking 2-wicket win over Sri Lanka in the second T20I match which went down to the wire in Abu Dhabi on Friday.
Faheem Ashraf – first Pakistani bowler to take a hat-trick in T20Is derailed the Lankan innings and they ended with a below par score of 124/9 in 20 overs after being 106 for 1 at one stage.
Pakistan in their reply toiled hard as Sri Lanka took regular wickets and they almost lost it before Shadab Khan won it for the hosts in the penultimate ball to secure the three-match series, 2-0 with the final match scheduled to be played in Lahore on Sunday.
With 12 runs to win in the final over bowled by Vikum Sanjaya – A wicket in the first ball, a tough chance in the deep, and a Shadab Khan six – straight as a whistle denied the visitors who fought valiantly in the field defending a low score.
Earlier after being sent into bat, the Sri Lankan openers, Danushka Gunathilaka and Dilshan Munaweera commenced the innings conservatively, running the first one hard, smashing the odd boundary. After adding 43 for the first wicket, Munaweera fell short of his crease as Pakistan got the initial breakthrough courtesy a run-out.
Gunathilaka was then joined by talented youngster Sadeera Samarawickrama and they consolidated the Lankan innings perfectly. They rotated the strike excellently to lay a solid platform for the visitors constructing a 63-run stand for the 2nd wicket before Samarawickrama was also dismissed through a run-out.
Samarawickrama scored only two fours during his 31-ball 32 while Gunathilaka notched up his maiden T20I fifty. After being 106 for 1 at the 16.1 over mark, Sri Lanka slumped to 119 for 9 – losing 8 wickets for just 13 runs as the visitors labored to 124 for 9 in the end.
Chasing 125 runs to win, Pakistani openers, Ahmed Shehzad and Fakhar Zaman got the hosts off to a flying start scoring 30 runs in no time before a brilliant piece of fielding by Isuru Udana in the deep found Zaman short of his crease while attempting the 3rd run.
“We can take a lot of positives from this game. We gave our 100 percent and unfortunately that (dropped) catch in the last over cost us the game. Our bowlers did a great job. To defend that total wasn’t easy, but they responded well. My team-mates are giving their 100 percent and that’s what motivates me to give my 100 percent,” Thisara said after the match.
Sri Lanka controlled the run-flow in the middle overs due to some creditable fielding and disciplined bowling. Captain Thisara Perera took the wickets of Ahmed Shehzad, Shoaib Malik and Imad Wasim to lead from the front but could not avoid Sri Lanka’s 15th consecutive defeat in the limited overs cricket.
Sri Lanka – 124/9 (20 overs) Danushka Gunathilaka 51, Sadeera Samarawickrama 32, Faheem Ashraf 3/16, Hasan Ali 2/31.
Pakistan – 125/8 (19.5 overs) Ahmed Shehzad 27, Sarfraz Ahmed 28, Shadab Khan 16*, Thisara Perera 3/24.