KARACHI: Pakistan cruised to a five-wicket win over Sri Lanka in the third and final ODI in Karachi on Wednesday to clinch the three-match series 2-0 at the National Stadium.
Pakistan had won the second ODI by 67 runs while the first match was washed out without a ball being bowled. Chasing 298 for victory, Pakistan rode on Fakhar Zaman and Abid Ali’s superb half-centuries to reach the target with 10 balls to spare. Fakhar Zaman top-scored for the home side with 76 runs off 91 balls (7 fours and 1 six) while Abid Ali made a quickfire 74 off 67 balls (10 fours) to lay the foundation for the run chase for Pakistan with a 123-run opening stand.
Fakhar then added 58 runs for the second wicket with Babar Azam (31) before the duo were sent back to the pavilion in quick succession by Nuwan Pradeep. Pakistan were cruising at that stage but were reduced to 189 for 4 before Haris Sohail and captain Sarfaraz Ahmed got together to bring the team back in the game with a 55-run stand for the fourth wicket. Haris then took charge of the chase after Sarfaraz departed for 23 and made a 50-ball 56 to help Pakistan cross the finish line.
Nuwan Pradeep managed to bag a couple of wickets while Lahiru Kumara and Wanindu Hasaranga got a wicket each but all in all, it was a disappointing performance from the Lankan bowlers. This was Pakistan’s highest successful run chase in the last three years and their 92nd victory over Sri Lanka in 155 matches, which is the most for any team against a particular opponent in ODI cricket.
Earlier, Sri Lanka opener Danushka Gunathilaka produced his career-best score in one-day internationals with a swashbuckling 133 to help the team post 297 for 9 in 50 overs.
Gunathilaka made 133 off 134 balls with the help of 16 boundaries and a six but got very little support from the other batsmen. Captain Lahiru Thirimanne and wicketkeeper Minod Bhanuka managed 36 runs each while Dasun Shanaka contributed with 43 runs but Pakistan bowlers did well to contain the flow of runs in the second-half of Lanka’s innings to keep them down to a gettable total.
Mohammad Amir was the pick of the Pakistani bowlers with 3 wickets for 50 runs from 10 overs while Usman Shinwari, Wahab Riaz, Shadab Khan and Mohammad Nawaz bagged a wicket each for the hosts.
Thirimanne said: “Proud, because boys fought very hard. Scoring 297 was good, but after that we didn’t execute our plans in the first 10-15 overs with the ball. But overall, very proud. Dasun and Shehan batted well the other day. And Gunathilaka’s century against this attack, it’s very good. It is my first time in Pakistan, been a really good experience. I encourage more teams to come and play.”
Sarfraz said: “Wasn’t an easy task chasing this. Credit goes to Abid. The way he handled the pressure. Congratulations to him. Credit goes to all the batsmen which is why we achieved the target. Fielding was not upto the mark. We have to improve that. If we field like that in T20Is, we won’t win many matches.” The two teams will now move to Lahore to play the three-match T20I series starting from October 5.