LAHORE: Heroics of Bhanuka Rajapaksa helped Sri Lanka win the second T20 by 35 runs and also win the T20 series against No. 1 Pakistan at their home ground.
At Gaddafi Stadium on Monday night, Sri Lanka not only won the second T20 but also won the series against the hosts, which is their first ever T20 series win against Pakistan. Earlier, both the countries had played total six T20 series, where Pakistan won four while two ended in draw.
The hosts started the run-chase in the worst possible manner as most of their batsmen fell cheaply and gifted their wickets to the Sri Lanka bowlers. Pakistan lost their first two wickets very quickly as they were struggling at 11-2 in 3.1 overs. Fakhar Zaman’s dismissal was particularly curious as he tried to hit Rajitha off-stump on full-toss ball but only ended up guiding it straight on to his stumps.
Reliable batsman Babar Azam also couldn’t make a difference and lost his wicket for paltry 3 runs. After such pathetic start, captain Sarfraz Ahmed himself took the responsibility and he, along with Ahmed Shehzad, added significant 40 runs for the third-wicket partnership. At this crucial time, Shehzad once again failed to deliver and was bowled out by de Silva at his personal score of 13. Umar Akmal once again disappointed the nation as well as selectors with his second consecutive golden duck.
At the time, when Pakistan were struggling, new batsmen Asif Ali and Imad Wasim showed some resistance to the Lankan bowlers. From 52/5 after 8 overs, the duo established a 75-run partnership off 47 balls to bring cheers back around the Gaddafi Stadium cauldron. At one stage, the partnership of Asif and Imad was in with a chance to produce a come-from-behind victory but it wasn’t to be.
Prior to second T20, Pakistan made two changes in the side, which lost to Sri Lanka by 64 runs in the opening T20. All-rounder Faheem Ashraf and Iftikhar Ahmad were excluded from the squad as they were replaced by Wahab Riaz and Fakhar Zaman. While the visitors entered the match unchanged. The final T20 will be played at the same venue tomorrow (Wednesday).
After the match, Sri Lanka’s hero-of-the-day Bhanuka Rajapaksa said: “It wasn’t an easy task to come to Pakistan and beat the No. 1 side but the confidence from the coaches helped a lot. Beating the No. 1 side, it would take it any day. It means a lot to me.” Pakistan skipper Sarfaraz Ahmed said: “We didn’t play good cricket. Congrats to Sri Lanka, who batted, bowled and fielded better than us. A missed a couple of run-out opportunities that could have changed the game.
They had a good partnership in the middle overs, we lost five wickets in the first ten overs. If you don’t take wickets in the middle overs, you cannot stop the flow of runs. Old players were called up because of their performance in the domestic cricket.”
Sri Lanka captain Dasun Shanaka said: “Bhanuka Rajapaksa played a masterclass innings. These youngsters should get a good chance after the series but there are senior players out as well. So it’s up to the selectors.”