Image courtesy of: ESPNcricinfo
Perera helped Sri Lanka retain their number one ranking
Sri Lanka opening batsman Kusal Perera demolished Pakistan with an entertaining innings of 84 as the Lankan Lions cruised to a 24-run win in the second and final Twenty20 International in Dubai to end the series as a 1-1 tie.
Perera was well supported by his opening partner Tillakaratne Dilshan, who smashed 48 runs, and wicketkeeper-batsman Kumar Sangakkara, who hammered 44 runs.
Pakistan captain Mohammad Hafeez won the toss and elected to bowl first.
His decision to do so backfired in the worst possible way as Sri Lanka’s opening pair of Dilshan and Perera amassed a fantastic 100-run partnership, during which Perera brought up his half-century, before Dilshan was caught by Umar Amin off the bowling of Saeed Ajmal just two agonising runs short of his own half-century.
Dilshan’s brilliant knock of 48 came off 33 balls and included eight boundaries.
Debutant Seekkuge Prasanna managed to hammer 21 runs off just eight balls, which included two boundaries and two sixes, before being caught by Usman Khan at point to become Ajmal’s second victim of the day.
Perera and Sangakkara put together a quickfire 78-run partnership at a blazing run rate of 12.64 before Perera was run out on the last ball of the innings for 84 off 59 balls, which included five boundaries and four sixes.
Sangakkara remained undefeated on 44 off 21 deliveries, which included four boundaries and two maximums, as Sri Lanka posted a mammoth total of 211 at the end of their 20 overs.
Ajmal was the pick of the Pakistan bowlers with two wickets.
Chasing a difficult target of 212 to whitewash Sri Lanka 2-0, Pakistan got off to a poor start as opening batsman Ahmed Shehzad was caught by substitute Kithuruwan Vithanage at backward point off the bowling of Sachithra Senanayake for only eight runs.
Hafeez was only able to score seven runs before being caught behind off the bowling of Nuwan Kulasekara.
Shoaib Maqsood chipped in with 15 runs before hitting a delivery from Thisara Perera to captain Dinesh Chandimal at midwicket.
Sharjeel Khan managed to bring up his half-century before being clean bowled by Prasanna for 50 off 25 balls, which included five boundaries and three sixes.
Wicketkeeper Umar Akmal failed to trouble the scorers as he was cleaned up by Prasanna for a golden duck.
Amin only lasted two balls before being hitting a delivery from Senanayake straight to Chandimal at silly mid-off.
Bilawal Bhatti was also on his way back to the pavilion the very next ball as he was stumped by Sangakkara.
Shahid Afridi smashed a quickfire 28 off 13 balls, which included two boundaries and two sixes, before being caught behind off the bowling of Perera.
With Pakistan looking down and out, Sohail Tanvir and Ajmal put together a 63-run partnership, which is the highest ninth-wicket partnership in Twenty20 history, before Tanvir was caught at backward point off the bowling of Lasith Malinga for 41.
Tanvir’s wonderful innings of 41 came off 26 balls and included five boundaries and a six.
Ajmal was dismissed the very next over as he was given out off the bowling of Kulasekara for 20.
Pakistan were bowled out for 187, leaving them 24 runs short of Sri Lanka’s target.
Senanayake was the most successful Sri Lankan bowler with three wickets, while Kulasekara, Prasanna and Perera all snapped up two wickets apiece and Malinga chipped in with one.
Hafeez was disappointed with his team’s bowling performance, and said: “We made the right decision to bowl first but we leaked some of the runs to bowl first. We didn’t bowl in the right areas early on, and they got a score higher than what we expected. We were looking at 160-170.
“I think the effort was great to see by the batsmen though. Whenever there is a two-match series it is tough to decide the series, but the Sri Lankans played very well and Sharjeel put up a good fight, but those four wickets in eight balls proved the difference.”
Chandimal was “over the moon” to have ended the series as a tie, and said: “We are over the moon. We keep our No. 1 ranking. Kusal and Dilshan batted really well, after that Seekkuge and Sangakkara batted well at the end. You know he’s a legend (Sanga), he’s a world-class batsman. We have some tricks up our sleeves for the ODIs, and have our game plans for the series.”
Perera was named Man of the Match for his highest score in a Twenty20 International.
“Feeling very good,” he said. “It was a very crucial game for us. They were bowling well so I took calculated risks in the first six overs, before rotating the strike. People mention similarities between me and Sanath Jayasuriya. Very confident for rest of series.”
Afridi was named Man of the Series.