Abid Ali, Haris Sohail star as Pakistan defeat Sri Lanka by five wickets in 3rd ODI, clinch series 2-0
Pakistan defeated Sri Lanka by five wickets in the third and final ODI in Karachi on Wednesday to clinch the three-match series 2-0 marking a winning start to newly-appointed head coach Misbah-ul-Haq's tenure. Pakistan successfully chased down the target of 298 runs with ten balls to spare with the help of half-centuries from Fakhar Zaman (76), Abid Ali (74) and Haris Sohail (56). The batsmen saved the day for Pakistan after a poor show from the bowlers, who were taken to the cleaners by centurion Danushka Gunathilaka, who played a brilliant knock of 133 runs.
Sri Lanka won the toss at the National Stadium in Karachi and opted to bat first. The visitors got off to a poor start after losing opener Avishka Fernando (4) cheaply. But Gunathilaka was up for it as he made up for the early loss with a sublime century. His 133-run knock was laced with sixteen fours and a solitary six as he almost single-handedly steered Sri Lanka's ship.
He was supported well by skipper Lahiru Thirimanne, who played a sensible knock of 36 runs off 53 balls and combined with Gunathilaka to add 88 runs for the second wicket. He then added 50 runs for the third wicket with Angelo Perera (13) before combining with Minod Bhanuka (36) for another good stand of 74 runs for the fifth wicket. He was dismissed later by Mohammad Amir.
Dasun Shanaka then played a fine cameo of 24-ball 43 towards the end to guide Sri Lanka to a strong total of 297 runs on the board in 50 overs. Amir was the stand-out performer in an otherwise disappointing bowling performance for Pakistan as he finished with figures of 3/50 in his 10 overs.
Pakistan were off to a flyer in the chase with openers Zaman and Ali adding a brilliant 123-run stand for the opening wicket. While Zaman slammed 76 off 91 balls, Ali looked in phenomenal touch enroute his 67-ball 74. The duo set the tempo for the chase and it was Sohail, who ensured Pakistan got over the line despite facing some hiccups in between. Sohail scored 56 off 50 balls to pull things back for the hosts towards the end when it looked like Sri Lanka will get back in the game.
He showed great composure throughout his stay in the middle and was well complemented by Iftikhar Ahmed, who managed to stay unbeaten on 28 off 22 balls. Babar Azam was awarded the Man of the Series for his match-winning century in the second ODI.