Leher Reddy Challuri DP 1
After a washout, Babar Azam and Usman Shinwari stood out for Pakistan as they helped them defeat Sri Lanka by 67 runs at the National Stadium in Karachi and on the 29th of September, leading the series 1-0.
After winning the toss and choosing to bat, Pakistan were welcomed by Shehan Jayasuriya. In theory, a right-arm off spinner should have stemmed the flow of runs with two left-handed batsman at the crease, but it made no difference as Fakhar Zaman and Imam-ul-Haq began to pick up the pace since the ending of the 4th over. The pair put together 73 runs, until Imam was dismissed by a leg spin delivery that turned into his pads sharply in the 15th over for 31. While originally deemed to be not out, a Sri Lankan review proved decisive.
New to the crease, Babar Azam helped keep up the scoring rate, while also seeing Fakhar get to a half-century. Soon after, however, he (Fakhar) was dismissed for 54 off 65 balls, slicing a delivery straight to mid-off in the 21st over. Babar played some scintillating drives and hit some power shots off the front and backfoot, and getting to his fifty in the process. Haris Sohail rotated the strike well. The pair put together 111 runs for the 3rd wicket, until Sohail was run out for 40 in the 40th over due to a misunderstanding.
That didn’t stop Babar, however, who went on to score his 11th ODI century in the 44th over. At the end of the same over, Sarfaraz Ahmed, Pakistan’s captain, was run out for 8 after hitting the ball straight to cover and taking a risky run. The lower-order batsman stitched together some small partnerships and went hard at the ball. Babar was dismissed for a wonderful innings of 115 off 105 balls in the 46th over, but Pakistan scored 44 runs from that point despite losing two more wickets, ending the innings with a solid total of 305-7.
The bowlers were only able to pick up 4 wickets among them. Shehan Jayasuriya bowled economically without getting a wicket, recording figures of 0-48. Isuru Udana and Lahiru Kumara picked up a wicket each, but went for runs, going for 60 off 9 overs and 59 off 10 overs respectively. Wanindu Hasaranga was also expensive but picked up 2 wickets, recording figures of 2-63.
With a total in excess of 300 to chase, Sri Lanka got off to a decent start, but lost their first wicket very soon, with Sadeera Samawickrama departing for 6 after being bowled by a full delivery. This triggered a major collapse as Sri Lanka lost 4 more wickets for just 10 more runs, with all of their top and middle order players back in the sheds. At 28-5, the chase looked impossible. However, Dasun Shanaka and Shehan Jayasuriya recovered the innings, and after a slow start, they started to go aerial and played some solid shots along the ground as well, getting to their fifties in the process as well. The game was paused briefly in the 38th over due to problems with the floodlights, but the pair continued on for a brief period, putting together a mammoth 177-run partnership for the sixth wicket, with the game still in the balance.
It ended in the 41st over, however, with Jayasuriya edging to the wicket keeper for 96, 4 runs short of a hundred off 109 deliveries. In the very next over, Shanaka was dismissed as well for 68 off 80 deliveries, hitting the ball straight to deep midwicket. The tail collapsed, but Wanindu Hasaranga stuck it out and played with good intent for a brief period. His wicket was the last to fall in the 47th over, dismissed for 30, hitting the ball straight to midwicket as Sri Lanka were all out for 238.
Shadab Khan picked up 2 wickets, but was very expensive, going for 76 runs off 9.5 overs. Imad Wasim put up a decent display, recording figures of 1-38 off 7 overs. Mohammad Amir and Wahab Riaz bowled well, picking up a wicket each and only going for 21 off 7 overs and 27 off 9 overs respectively. The star of the innings, however, was Usman Shinwari, picking up his second five wicket haul in ODIs, recording excellent figures of 5-51 off 10 overs.
With one last ODI left, how will Sri Lanka respond? Will Pakistan win the series, or will a weak Sri Lankan side, without the likes of Dimuth Karunatarne and Angelo Mathews put up a defiant display to end the series level? Join us on The Sreenidhian on the 2nd of October to find out!