Sri Lanka clinches series after big win

Thisara Perera produced a superb spell of right-arm medium pace bowling, while Tillakaratne Dilshan hit an unbeaten half-century, as Sri Lanka beat Pakistan by seven wickets in the deciding third and final One-Day International to clinch the series 2-1in Dambulla on Saturday (August 30).

Perera returned figures of 4 for 34 in eight overs, and was instrumental in the home side ensuring Pakistan was bundled out for only 102, its lowest total in Sri Lanka. A brief rain interruption when Pakistan was 81 for 8 meant the match was reduced to 48-overs-a-side. Sri Lanka was set a revised target of 101, and chased it down in just 18.2 overs.

Dhammika Prasad did the initial damage for Sri Lanka, removing Ahmed Shehzad and Sharjeel Khan, the openers, to push Pakistan on the back foot early. Lasith Malinga then had Mohammad Hafeez trapped in front as Pakistan found itself 14 for 3 – a start from which it found difficult to recover.

A direct hit from Dilshan caught Misbah-ul-Haq, the captain, short of his crease, bringing to an end his brief knock of 18 off 30 balls.

Rain held up proceedings briefly, but Sri Lanka scalped the two wickets it needed quickly after the break, as Pakistan was all out in 32.1 overs.

Pakistan could not stitch together any meaningful partnerships, with as many as eight batsmen falling for single-figure scores. Fawad Alam, who stayed unbeaten on 38, waged a lone battle, but ensured that the team total went past 100.

Prasad’s twin strikes early in the innings meant he finished with 2 for 25 off six overs. Malinga, Rangana Herath and Seekkuge Prasanna, the leg-spinner, were all economical and accounted for a wicket apiece.

Mohammad Irfan provided the opening breakthrough for Pakistan, when he had Upul Tharanga castled off an inside edge. But by then, Tharanga had already put on 46 for the opening wicket with Dilshan in seven overs, setting Sri Lanka well on course when lunch was taken.

Sri Lanka lost Kumar Sangakkara, who was caught off Wahab Riaz’s left-arm pace bowling, quickly upon resumption. Mahela Jayawardena (26 off 32 balls) then joined Dilshan and added 41 for the third wicket, taking Sri Lanka to the doorstep of victory.

Pakistan’s best bowler was Saeed Ajmal, who returned to the playing XI after coming back from Brisbane, where he had undergone testing on his action. Ajmal took 1 for 10 in four overs.

However, given a small target, Sri Lanka’s chase proved to be straightforward.