PAK v SL, 2nd T20I Review: Pakistan Complete A Series Wrap With A Low Scoring Thriller
A handy contribution from skipper Sarfraz Ahmed and a resilient effort from leg-spinner Shadab Khan ensured Pakistan overcame a stiff challenge to beat Sri Lanka by two wickets at the Sheikh Zayed Stadium, Abu Dhabi.
The contest, which involved only a modest target of 125 set by Sri Lanka batting first, nearly saw Pakistan slip up a chance to end the tour with a clean slate having whitewashed the opposition in the ODI leg and winning the opening T20I a day ago.
Pakistan once again won the toss and decided to chase, but the Lankans had a great start, unlike the first contest.
The steady start where the openers garnered 42 runs in the powerplay overs and the solid stand between Sadeera Samarawicrama and Danushka Gunathilaka stood as the backbone of the Lankan innings.
Pakistan drew the first blood in the very next over following the end of the powerplays, Dilshan Munaweera, was run out in a display of very casual approach while attempting to take a quick single.
Samarawicrama and Gunathilaka then carried forward the innings and left the Pakistani bowler ineffective for a while. The pair added 63 for the second wicket to take the score tally past the 100 run mark.
The platform was laid out as the final stages approached, and it seemed that Pakistan would be required to chase a competitive total. However, in the 17th over leg-spinner, Shadab Khan triggered a mighty collapse which saw the Lankans finish with far less amount of runs that were originally anticipated.
Both the well-settled individuals were removed from the crease. The first to depart was Sadeera who was run out by Imad Wasim off the 2nd delivery. Two balls later, Shadab and Wasim have involved once again as Gunathilaka hit one straight to the latter just after reaching his half-century.
The following over saw two more wickets fall as Seekuge Prasanna and Thisara Perera both were removed in the space of just four balls. This brought down Sri Lanka 111/5, causing concern in the batting camp.
The biggest highlight of the bowling performance was waiting to happen in the penultimate over.
Fahim Ashraf became the first Pakistani to claim a hattrick in the T20I to land the perfect knockout blow to the Lankan ambition of posting a somewhat respectable score on the board. His victim included Dasum Shanaka. Isuru Udana and Mahela Udawatte. After the mess created by the listless batting show, Sri Lanka could manage only 124/9 at the end of 20 overs.
Pakistan, however, did not have it easy during the chase. The Lankan bowling attack, led by Thisara Perera, were in a resilient mood and almost managed to defend the total and pocket a close win. The batting side simply lost wickets in lumps and never looked settled enough to chase down the target.
Openers Fakhar Zaman and Ahmed Shehzad looked in good rhythm initially but could capitalise the starts they got. The first to depart was Zaman who was dismissed in the 5th over. He was quickly followed by the dismissal of Babar Azam which came just two balls later.
A small steady phase was later ensured after this sudden damage before Pakistan lost another couple of wickets in short successions with Ahmed Shehzad and Shoaib Malik losing their wickets in the 9th and the 11th over respectively.
But, yet again Pakistan recovered well from the hefty blows and set themselves on the way towards the gaol riding on the works of Sarfaraz Ahmed and Mohammad Hafeez. While the neither of the individuals manage to post impressive knocks themselves, their combined contribution of 39 runs helped Pakistan stay in the contest. The Lankans, however, had not given up as Thisara Perera swung the momentum back in their favour by getting rid of Hafeez and breaking the stand.
Sarfraz also followed him soon while Imad Wasim and Fahim Ashraf could not stay in the middle for long. Therefore, Pakistan was reduced to eight wickets down with 12 runs still required.
But, Shadab Khan took the responsibility and played an appreciable knock of 16 runs off just 8 balls to help the hosts end up on the winning side.
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