By Srian Obeyesekere reporting from Sharjah
Pakistan coasted to a fourth triumph on the trot by 7 wickets totaling 177 for 3 against Sri Lanka with Babar Azam on 69 off 101 balls with 5 boundaries and Shoaib Malik also on 69 off 81 with 2 boundaries and 3 sixes sealing it with 11 overs to spare in the day-night encounter at the Sharjah Stadium. Pakistan was egged on by a noisy fan base after Sri Lanka made 173 in 43.4 overs setting Pakistan a target of 174 to win; a target that looked relatively easy going by Pakistan’s unbeaten grip in the series and heading for four in a row. The unbroken fourth wicket alliance between Azam and Malik realized 119 runs.
Sri Lanka lost the plot batting first through the negligent run out of Dinesh Chandimal when looking well set together with Lahiru Thirimanne when the total was 59 for 2 wickets by the 10.3rd over. Chandimal stepped out and stroked a ball to the right of mid wicket who misfielded. He ambled for the run with the non striker Thirimanne not responding staying put in the crease. How much the Chandimal-Thirimanne combinative input would have weighed for Sri Lanka is best illustrated by the fact that they had added 29 for the fifth wicket with Chandimal on 24 off 16 balls and Thirimanne on 45 off 72; indeed going strong when calamity struck. Further was to. Perhaps Samarawickrema was apparently unnerved by the chaos.
The next man in debutant Sadeera Samarawickrema was clean bowled the very next delivery lock stock and barrel to an in-ducker by debutant Imad Wasim and Sri Lanka’s new cap was gone for a duck in a literal scenario of inaction; In a perspective, two new caps in the action; despair for one, and joy for the other. Perhaps Samarawickrema was apparently unnerved by the chaos of the Chandimal dismissal and a rampant Pakistan egged on by a volatile capacity fan base.
As it was Lahiru Thirimanne continued a virtual lone fight and ninth out for 62 off balls containing 4 boundaries as the Sri Lankan innings ebbed out.
-The opinions expressed here are the views of the writer and do not necessarily reflect the views and opinions of Sri Lanka Cricket-