Sri Lanka claimed their Pakistan tour’s first victory with Danushka Gunathilaka playing a leading role once again.
Having scored his second ODI century against Pakistan in the third ODI, the 28-year-old continued his good form at the top of the order with a half-century, and this time his excellence led to a victory for Sri Lanka. He struck eight fours and a six in his 38-ball knock before becoming the first wicket to fall, missing a sweep against Shadab Khan and being given LBW.
It was Shadab who also accounted for the next wicket to drop, running out Gunathilaka’s opening partner Avishka Fernando with a mid-off direct hit for a 33-ball 34 sedate, and it was the Mohammad Hasnain show afterward.
Playing his second T20I, the Pakistani tearaway showed why he’s held in such high regard, taking three wickets over two spells in three balls. Bhanuka Rajapaksa, who made a 22-ball 32 breezy debut on T20I, was pinned on the pads by a pinpoint yorker, skipper Dasun Shanaka holed out long-on, and Shehan Jayasuriya hurried for pace, splicing on the covers to Ahmed Shehzad.
His hat-trick, the ninth in men’s T20Is and the second by a Pakistani, took Sri Lanka back in at the end of their innings, and the tourists finished on 165/5 after looking like they might break 180 at one point.
When Babar Azam struck a few sweetly timed boundaries to kick-start the chase, it looked like Pakistan’s dominance theme, but Nuwan Pradeep’s double-strike changed the contest’s complexion. Babar nicked off before Umar Akmal, in nearly three years playing his first T20I, dropped to LBW. Pradeep couldn’t finish the hat trick, but it wasn’t long before Shehzad chopped on to Isuru Uda.
Sarfaraz Ahmed and Iftikhar Ahmed helped to rebuild, adding 46 for the fourth wicket, but the rate started to spiral, and by the time the next breakthrough came – Iftikhar run out after a mix-up – it had crossed 11 runs per over.
And there was to be no comeback, a 6/25 collapse that confirmed the victory of 64 runs in Sri Lanka. With three wickets each, Udana and Pradeep finished, while Wanindu Hasaranga claimed 2/20 in four. The ranked side of the MRF Tyres No.8 had downed the No.1 world team on their home turf and took the series 1-0 lead.