At the Dubai International Cricket Stadium, here, on Friday, Sri Lanka defeated Pakistan by five wickets thanks to stellar bowling from spinners Wanindu Hasaranga and Maheesh Theekshana and an equally impressive half-century from Pathum Nissanka (55 not out from 48).
Pakistan and Sri Lanka have already advanced to the competition’s final. As a result, it served as a practise match before the summit battle, and Sri Lanka will enter Sunday’s game on a winning note and with confidence.
Pakistan was dismissed for 121 runs in 19.1 overs thanks to the outstanding bowling of spinners Wanindu Hasaranga (3/21) and Maheesh Theekshana (2/21). In addition to Hasaranga and Theekshana, Sri Lanka’s other effective bowlers included Pramod Madushan (2/21), Chamika Karunaratne (1/4), and Dhananjaya de Silva (1/18).
With a modest mark to chase, Sri Lanka had a disastrous powerplay, losing three wickets. Both the openers, Kusal Mendis and Danushka Gunathilaka, got out to Mohammad Hasnain and Haris Rauf, respectively, without bothering the scorers.
Dhananjaya de Silva made the decision to counterattack, and his pull shot resulted in a goal. De Silva’s wicket was lost, though, in Rauf’s over, leaving Sri Lanka in trouble at 29-3 after 4.6 overs.
In order to resurrect their innings, Sri Lanka needed a partnership after losing three critical wickets during the powerplay. In the middle overs, the partnership of Pathum Nissanka and Bhanuka Rajapaksa effectively countered the Pakistan spinner and put up a 51-run stand for the fourth wicket.
After a breezy 24 runs, Rajapaksa was out after hitting a couple of lovely sixes against Usman Qadir. He was caught by the fielder while attempting to fire another one over mid-wicket.
After that, Nissanka continued his amazing batting performance to get his half-century and help Sri Lanka get closer to the victory. Sri Lanka needed 42 runs from 51 balls. He had excellent support from Sri Lanka’s captain, Dasun Shanaka, who gave the team’s batting some impetus by scoring 21 runs in as few as 16 balls before falling with the score still within striking distance of victory.
With five wickets in hand and the next batter, Wanindu Hasaranga (10 off 3), driving Sri Lanka to victory in 17 overs, hit two boundaries in three balls and remained unbeaten. The wicket-takers for Pakistan were Haris Rauf (2/19), Mohammad Hasnain (2/21) and Usman Qadir (1/34).
When Pakistan was given the opportunity to bat first, Mohammad Rizwan (14), an informant, was dismissed in the fourth over. From a long distance away, Rizwan attempted to slog the ball, but he top-edged, and Kusal Mendis made an easy catch.
After that, Pakistan reached 49/1 after 6 overs thanks to the overly conservative batting of Fakhar Zaman and captain Babar Azam. No batter was prepared to take chances, therefore Pakistan maintained their cautious strategy even after the powerplay.
Fakhar made the decision to break free as the pressure mounted, but Chamika Karunaratne caught him brilliantly at the boundary line, allowing him to be dismissed. Hasaranga removed Babar in the very next over as he attempted to hit the ball over the fence while walking down the wicket but failed miserably, leaving Pakistan in trouble at 68/3 after 10.4 overs.
The spinners in particular kept up the fine work, controlling the scoring rate to Sri Lanka’s advantage. After 15.6 overs, Pakistan was in serious difficulty at 95/7 after losing the wickets of Khushdil Shah (4), Iftikhar Ahmed (13), Asif Ali (0), and Hasan Ali in quick succession.
It was Mohammad Nawaz, who hit few boundaries and six to give some late flourish to his team innings before getting run-out in the penultimate over. Eventually, Pakistan were bowled out for 121-10 in 19.1 overs.
Brief scores: Pakistan 121 all out in 19.1 overs (Babar Azam 30, Mohammad Nawaz 26; Wanindu Hasaranga 3/21, Maheesh Theekshana 2/21) lost to Sri Lanka 124-5 in 17 overs (Pathum Nissanka 55 not out, Bhanuka Rajapaksa 24; Haris Rauf 2/19) by five wickets
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