Fakhar, Abid fire Pak to series win
Pakistan thwarted a spirited career-best century by Danushka Gunathilaka to defeat Sri Lanka by five wickets in the third and final one-day international in Karachi on Wednesday, taking the three-match series in the process.
Gunathilaka’s 134-ball 133 lifted Sri Lanka to a challenging 297-9 in their 50 overs but Pakistan chased down the target in 48.2 overs for their first series win in 15 months.
Pakistan won the second match by 67 runs while the first match was rained off without a ball being bowled — both also in Karachi.
Pakistan were indebted to Fakhar Zaman (76) and Abid Ali (74) who provided a solid 123-run opening stand in 20 overs before Haris Sohail (56) and Iftikhar Ahmed chipped in with a 22-ball 28 not out.
“It wasn’t an easy target but thanks to Abid and others who showed positive intent, they helped us chased it down,” said Pakistan skipper Sarfaraz Ahmed.
Sri Lanka skipper Lahiru Thirimanne praised his young team who had been depleted by the withdrawal of 10 top players due to security fears in Pakistan.
“I am really happy with this team’s performance,” said Thirimanne. “We scored a good total of 297 but then did not execute our plans in the first ten overs of bowling.
“Overall I am happy with the team and the arrangements in Pakistan and will encourage other teams to come here and play.”
Pakistan needed 37 in the last five overs as Iftikhar cut loose, hitting a six and a boundary to bring up victory — Pakistan’s eighth consecutive ODI win over Sri Lanka since 2017.
Babar Azam, who struck a brilliant hundred in the second game, made 31 before being trapped lbw by Pradeep skipper Sarfaraz managed 23.
The matches revived one-day international cricket in Karachi after a gap of ten years.
Earlier, Gunathilaka anchored Sri Lanka's innings after they won the toss and batted.
The 28-year-old left-hander hit 16 fours and a six for his second ODI hundred.
The two teams will now play three Twenty20 internationals — all in Lahore — on October 5, 7 and 9.