Pakistan 218 (Babar 119, Jayasuriya 5-82) and 344 for 6 (Shafique 160, Babar 55, Jayasuriya 4-135) beat Sri Lanka 222 (Chandimal 76, Shaheen 4-58) and 337 (Chandimal 94, Kusal Mendis 76, Oshada 64, Nawaz 3-88) by four wickets
Pakistan had 120 more needed with seven wickets still in hand on the last morning of the match. Which was a very tense time. When Mohammad Rizwan moved forward to face a ball from Prabath Jayasuriya, the ball slipped between his bat and pad before getting close to the off bail.
There were many other times when Pakistanis’ nerves were strained. In the third over, Jayasuriya hit Abdullah Shafique on the back leg, which led to a strong lbw call. Sri Lanka looked into the not-out call, but it turned out that the ball was climbing over the stumps. After a few more overs, when Pakistan had brought the number of runs needed down to double digits, another Jayasuriya ball that went past Rizwan’s outside edge caused another big appeal and another burned review.
When Shafique was on 118, he thought a ball that came out of a length and beat the keeper was going to the boundary. He started to run, but quickly turned around. Shafique would have been out if Dhananjaya de Silva, who caught that ball at slip, had hit it with his throw at the stumps.
Then it started to rain. When Pakistan needed about 25 points, a big black cloud landed over the stadium. Shafique didn’t want his almost 400-ball innings to end in a tie because of rain, so he came down the pitch and tried to hit Dhananjaya de Silva over deep midwicket. Instead, he skyed it to Kasun Rajitha, who was a few metres from the boundary and caught it.
But even though three wickets fell and Pakistan had to fight for the last 40 runs, they always had the chase in the bag because Shafique was still there. He mostly batted the same way on day five as he did the day before: carefully, strategically, and with a strong refusal to lose his wicket.
In the morning, he let Rizwan move Pakistan ahead with his sweeps and a couple of easy cover drives. During their 71-run partnership, which brought Pakistan to within 65 runs of winning, Shafique only scored 23 runs and hit one boundary. Rizwan got to 40, but a Jayasuriya slider got him out lbw in the end.
Shafique was no different when it came to the batters in the lower middle order. He stuck to the strategy of waiting out the good balls and giving himself single options by sometimes coming down the track or going deep into his crease.
Shafique didn’t give up hope even after Agha Salman, who was making his debut. Hasan Ali, who had been brought up to hit some big shots, were both out in quick succession. They were both out with 41 still to get. Only in the last stand he played with Mohammad Nawaz on day five did Shafique score more than his partner. He passed 150 for the first time in his career and still had 25 runs to go.
The rain was the last thing that Pakistan had to deal with. When 11 was needed, the dark cloud that had made Shafique shoot quickly caused a flood. But the heavy rain only lasted a few minutes, and it was soon clear that the game would go on. After about 90 minutes, it did. Shafique hit the winning runs with a hit through the covers that put him at 160 not out.
Jayasuriya seemed to be Sri Lanka’s only bowler who could take wickets for most of the day. Ramesh Mendis and Maheesh Theekshana weren’t able to keep up pressure, and Maheesh Theekshana was also used to score runs. Jayasuriya got the most help from Dhananjaya de Silva, who did some quiet overs.
Sri Lanka’s innings win against Australia made them feel good about their spin attack. This humiliating loss has brought them back to earth. This group still hasn’t done much before. Again, Jayasuriya was the best of them. In 56.2 overs, he took 4 wickets for 135 runs. Each of Ramesh Mendis and Dhananjaya took one wicket.
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