Carrying on their stupendous vein on form in ODI’s since their historic triumph in the ICC Champions Trophy, Pakistan simply decimated Sri Lanka in Dubai.
The opening ODI of the series saw an emphatic batting performance from the men in green, as the change in formats did Sarfraz Ahmed’s side a world of good. Not too long ago, Pakistan got whitewashed in the Test series, but today, they brought their A game to the fore. It was primarily due to the brilliance of Babaz Azam and the evergreen Shoaib Malik.
While Azam was a sitting duck in whites, having his coloured clothes on, brought out the best in him. After the hosts lost a couple of early wickets, it was Azam who steadied the ship with a rock solid knock. Along with Mohammad Hafeez, Azam gave the team a steady foundation, and it was the destruction of Shoaib Malik towards the end which turned out to be decisive.
Opener Fakhar Zaman looked fluent for his knock of 43 before Akila Dananjaya castled him. Azam, however, carried on and got to the 6th ton of his career, playing just his 32nd ODI. He has been a rock for the team ever since he has got a chance.
Towards the end, however, Malik went berserk, as his 61 ball knock of 81 got Pakistan to a healthy total of 292-6. Defending wise, there weren’t any issues for the Pakistanis as the ever-reliable bowling came to the fore. Pacers Rumman Raees and Hasan Ali shared three wickets apiece, as the Sri Lankans surrendered.
Post the win; captain Sarfraz Ahmed was delighted, as he lauded the batsmen for a fine performance.
“I think credit to our batsmen; they batted brilliantly. Bowlers too did their job. We’ve got good variations in our bowling department. If we have runs on the board, we are confident that this bowling attack can defend well. There is a lot of quality in this side, and we are looking forward to the next game,” Ahmed said.
Malik was named the Man of the Match for his knock, and he too was quite delighted.
“I guess, in the middle overs, they were bowling well. I kept rotating strike, and that was my plan. Credit to Babar – the way he batted and also Hafeez. Bowlers then finished it up. Being an experienced player, it’s your responsibility to bat through the innings. My goal was to keep rotating singles, and I upped the ante towards the end,” said Malik.