Pakistan defeated Sri Lanka by 135 runs on Sunday, and ended up with a 2-1 win in the five match series.
Pakistan’s captain, Azhar Ali, won the toss and considering the conditions of the pitch, opted to bat first and try to post a respectable total.
Keeping in mind Muhammad Hafeez’s bowling ban, Pakistan team made just one change bringing in all-rounder Imad Wasim. The left handed all-rounder replaced Babar Azam as Azhar and company looked to take the third ODI in their favor.
Azhar and Ahmed Shehzad provided a steady start. Scoring at almost a run per ball, both the batsmen looked in good touch. Along the course of play, the Sri Lankan bowlers were greatly frustrated by the opening pair. Making good use of this, Shehzad and Azhar both executed beautiful cricketing shots all over the park. In the process, Azhar became the fastest Pakistani player to reach 1000 runs in ODI cricket. He achieved this feat in 23 innings.
However, Sri Lanka soon gathering its bearing and struck the Pakistani side on 93 runs, when pace-man Lasith Malinga used the short ball to perfection bowled Shehzad away. Soon after this, Azhar too followed Shehzad to the pavilion, after playing an unlucky 49-run inning. He got run out due to a communication mishap with Muhammad Hafeez.
In-form keeper Sarfraz Ahmed was promoted up the order to keep the scoreboard ticking along with his senior partner, Hafeez. They were involved in a fifty-run partnership, but soon after Hafeez went back after scoring a healthy 54, as he became the prey of Sachith Pathirana’s left arm spin. Sarfraz took matter in his own hands and started to charge.
Dispatching bad deliveries for boundaries, he looked in supreme touch. But an unfortunate run out, as a result of a direct hit from Perera, ended his fruitful innings of 77 runs. The scorecard read 257 runs for the loss of four wickets. When young prodigy Muhammad Rizwan stepped on the pitch to support veteran Shoaib Malik, with almost five-overs left to play in the innings, the duo of experience and youth combined. Shoaib and Rizwan scored 42 and 35 runs respectively to help Pakistan set a target of 316 runs for the loss of only four wickets.
Sri Lanka opened the batting line with the power-packed combination of TM Dilshan and Kusal Perera. However, the duo couldn’t last for long. Pakistan struck early in the sixth over as Dilshan was sent back to the pavilion. He only made 14 runs. Kusal Perera went soon after as he was caught in outstanding fashion by Sarfraz, courtesy of Anwar Ali’s bowling. Lahiru Thiramanne tried to restore Sri Lanka’s sinking ship but to no avail. Thiramanne lost partners at regular intervals. Yasir Shah picked up Upal Tharanga for 16, whilst skipper Angelo Matthews also went back to the dressing room after a brief 12-ball stay on the field. Picking up two more wickets, the leg spinner finished with his career best figures of 4-29 in ODIs. Debutant Imad Wasim and Anwar Ali picked up two wickets respectively.
Pakistan will be looking to seal the series with a win in the fourth ODI being played today.