Shoaib Malik scorched his way to a 23-ball fifty, Mohammad Amir scythed through Sri Lanka’s chase to claim his best T20 figures, and Pakistan gave a raucous home crowd an evening to remember, as they trounced Sri Lanka by 36 runs, and swept the series 3-0.
Although Friday’s match had been tense, this was yet another limited-overs mismatch in a tour that has been full of them. On a smoggy Lahore evening, Pakistan’s 180 for 3 always seemed beyond Sri Lanka’s thin batting order. Dasun Shanaka’s 54 off 36 balls was valiant, but even while he was at the crease, Sri Lanka were too far behind the rate – none of the other batsmen having found their range. Amir, who had taken the first wicket, also knocked out the lower middle order, taking 4 for 13. At times in the final over, he bowled with three slips in place, as Sri Lanka limped to 144 for 9.
Plenty of Sri Lankan flags were on display at the Gaddafi Stadium, as Pakistan fans showing their gratitude to the touring team, but atmospheric conditions at the venue had a bearing on the match as well. Dew was in evidence from early in the evening, and Sri Lanka’s inexperienced attack found themselves hampered by it, particularly towards the end of the innings. The last over of the Pakistan innings – bowled by Vikum Sanjaya – was particularly damaging. In attempting to hit the blockhole, Sanjaya delivered a series of low full tosses, conceding three sixes, and leaking 23 runs.
Though legspinner Shadab Khan also found conditions difficult, Pakistan’s seamers were good enough with the wet ball – Faheem Ashraf and Hasan Ali also taking three wickets between them. At no stage did Sri Lanka mount an intimidating partnership. Their best was the 39-run stand between Shanaka and Chaturanga de Silva, for the fifth wicket.
Fakhar Zaman and Umar Amin had begun efficiently for Pakistan, making 57 off the first eight overs. But it was Malik who changed the trajectory of the innings, setting them on course to an imposing score, when they had once been headed for just a competitive total.
He started with a patter of singles, then raised the tempo in the 16th over by hitting a six and two fours – the second of which was sumptuously drilled square of the wicket on the off side. That over – bowled by Isuru Udana – would yield 16, and Malik’s momentum would not waiver until his dismissal. He crashed a boundary either side of the wicket in the 18th over, then carved Thisara Perera over point, before completing a sixth T20I half-century with another six over midwicket. Aside from the delivery off which he was dismissed – holing out to deep midwicket off the bowling of Sanjaya – Malik scored off every ball. Thanks largely to his acceleration, Pakistan reaped 72 off the last five overs of their innings.
Sri Lanka never really had the measure of this total. Dilshan Munaweera attempted to blast Amir’s second ball square of the wicket, and was bowled by an inswinger he never looked like making contact with. Next over – the third of the innings – Sadeera Samarawickrama swept Imad Wasim straight to the man at deep square leg. Five balls later, Danushka Gunathilaka was caught and bowled trying to slam Mohammad Hafeez down the ground. Four overs into the chase, Sri Lanka were 22 for 3, with a series of allrounders to come.
Were it not for Shanaka, it is possible the visitors would not have mustered a respectable score at all. He was most severe on Shadab, slogging him for three leg-side sixes, and two fours as well. Shanaka and de Silva hit 17 runs off the 12th over of the innings, but Sri Lanka had ceded so much ground early on that the required rate was still more than 11 an over. When Shanaka top-edged a slog off Ashraf soon after, the game was more or less decided. Amir would remove de Silva, Seekkuge Prasanna and Sachith Pathirana in the space of seven of his deliveries, just to make sure of it.
Not only have Sri Lanka lost all eight of their limited-overs matches in the series with this result, they have now lost 16 white-ball matches on the trot, dating back to the ODI defeats against Zimbabwe in July.