ABU DHABI: Medium pacer Hasan Ali finished with a career best bowling to once again anchor Pakistan’s convincing seven-wicket win over Sri Lanka in the first Twenty20 in Abu Dhabi on Thursday.
Hasan, who took 14 wickets in Pakistan’s preceding 5-0 whitewash of the one-day series, took 3-23 in 3.3 overs as Pakistan skittled Sri Lanka out for a paltry 102 in 18.3 overs. Only Seekkuge Prasanna (23 not out) and debutant Sadeera Samarawickrama (23) put some resistance against a varied Pakistan bowling attack.
Pakistan did lose Fakhar Zaman (six), Babar Azam (one) and Ahmed Shehzad (22) but were seen through to the target by Shoaib Malik 42 not out and Mohammad Hafeez 25 not out with 16 balls to spare. That gave Pakistan a 1-0 lead in the three-match series. Malik hit four boundaries in his 31-ball knock while Hafeez’s 23-ball innings had three hits to the ropes as the pair added 39 for the unbroken fourth wicket stand. It was again Pakistan’s bowling which led them to victory.
Sri Lanka lost wickets at regular intervals after looking to build the innings at 51-2 in the ninth over. But they lost their last eight wickets for another 51 runs and were bowled out for their second lowest Twenty20 total against Pakistan. All six Pakistan bowlers took wickets with spinner Mohammad Hafeez (2-10) and pacer Usman Shinwari (2-24) supplementing Hasan to the best effect.
Sent into bat, Sri Lanka lost Dilshan Munaweera for nought off the third ball of the first over while Dashun Gunathilaka made 11-ball 18 with three boundaries. Samarawickrama and Ashan Priyanjan (12) had added 22 for the third wicket but wicket started to fall in cluster and Sri Lanka could never recover.
Just like in one-day series, Hasan was at his best in taking wickets, removing Sachith Pathirana (four), Isuru Udana (nought) and Vikum Sanjaya (four) to improve on his previous best of 3-49 against the West Indies in Dubai last year.
Skipper Thisara Perera made six. It was left to Prasanna to hit two sixes in his run-a-ball 23 to get past 100-mark. The second match is also in Abu Dhbai on Friday before the teams fly to Lahore for the last match on Sunday.
Man of the match Usman Khan Shinwari said: “My rhythm is good. Lot of support from the supporting staff, they tell me to do what I know to do. My pace was good, I was confident today. Because there was pace, didn’t need to use any variation. Our morale has been good since the Champions Trophy and we will continue to perform and help the national team score more and more victories.”
Sri Lanka captain Thisara Perera said: “If we look back, we need to take positives, we need to score runs to win a match. Our bowlers did pretty well, I’m 100% confident we can do something tomorrow. This is one of the best bowling sides I’ve seen, for the last 1.5 years.”