Image courtesy of: ESPNcricinfo
Hafeez recorded a career-best score and took two wickets
Pakistan all-rounder Mohammad Hafeez smashed a sparkling century and took two wickets as he led his side to a crushing 113-run win over Sri Lanka in the third ODI in Sharjah.
Hafeez was well supported by opening batsman Ahmed Shehzad, who smashed a spectacular half-century, as Pakistan took a 2-1 lead in the five-match series.
Sri Lanka captain Angelo Mathews won the toss and elected to bowl first.
His decision paid off almost immediately as Pakistan opening batsman Sharjeel Khan was clean bowled by Nuwan Kulasekara for just two runs.
Ahmed Shehzad and Mohammad Hafeez made up for the early loss of Khan with a brilliant 160-run partnership, during which both batsmen brought up their half-centuries, before Shehzad was run out for 81 off 89 balls, which included six boundaries and two sixes.
Shoaib Maqsood made a quickfire 21 before being caught by Sachithra Senanayake at long-on off the bowling of Thisara Perera.
Pakistan captain Misbah-ul-Haq and Hafeez kept the runs flowing with a 75-run partnership, during which Hafeez registered his sixth ODI century, before ul-Haq was caught by Dimuth Karunaratne off the bowling of Perera for 40.
Shahid Afridi only managed to make two runs before he was clean bowled by Lasith Malinga.
Pakistan eventually finished on 326/5 off their 50 overs.
Hafeez recorded a career-high score of 140, which came off 136 deliveries and included 11 boundaries and three sixes, while wicketkeeper Umar Akmal remained undefeated on 23 off 12 balls, which included one boundary and two maximums.
Perera was the pick of the Sri Lankan bowlers with two wickets, while Kulasekara and Malinga snapped up one wicket apiece.
Chasing a mammoth 327 to win, Sri Lanka got off to a poor start as opening batsman Kusal Perera was caught at backward point by Shehzad off the bowling of Umar Gul, who was playing in his first international match in nine months.
Gul picked up his second wicket just four balls later when Karunaratne was caught behind for a duck.
Kumar Sangakkara only managed to score 14 runs before he was caught by Maqsood at deep midwicket off the bowling of Junaid Khan.
Dilshan and Dinesh Chandimal stabilised the innings with a 59-run partnership, during which Dilshan brought up his half-century, before he was cleaned up by Afridi for 59.
Dilshan’s fantastic knock of 59 came off 62 balls and included 10 boundaries.
Chandimal scored 36 runs before throwing his wicket away when he hit a delivery from Hafeez straight to Maqsood at deep midwicket.
Kulasekara was dismissed just three overs later as he was caught behind off the bowling of Saeed Ajmal for only one run.
Kulasekara’s wicket marked a personal milestone for Ajmal as it was his 102nd international wicket of 2013, putting him atop of the list for the most wickets taken by a Pakistani bowler in all formats in one year.
Seekkuge Prasanna hammered a quickfire 22 before being caught at square leg by Ajmal off the bowling of Hafeez.
Thisara Perera failed to have an impact with the bat as he was brilliantly caught by Afridi off the bowling of Junaid Khan.
Mathews smashed 44 off 51 balls, which included one boundary and three sixes, before he was caught by Hafeez off the bowling of Ajmal.
Gul finished things off in style as he clean bowled Malinga for 19 runs to give Pakistan a convincing 113-run win.
Mathews was disgusted with his team’s performance, and said: “It was a disappointing performance all round to be honest. If you are chasing 320, you need to get a good start and give the middle order players a chance, that didn’t happen. We need to win next game to stay alive in the series so we’ll come out firing.”
Ul-Haq was ecstatic to have taken a 2-1 lead in the series, and said: “I’m really happy with the performance. Happy to bat first, top order showed responsibility, Hafeez and Ahmed provided the platform, and good finish too. The way Gul came and took wickets set the tone, as we weren’t taking wickets with the new ball. I was happy with the way the spinners performed as well.”
Hafeez was named Man of the Match for his brilliant all-round performance.
“I was trying to not get bogged down, I was trying to play technical shots, Ahmed played really well, took the pressure on, the partnership gave us momentum, bowlers did a great job on this sort of pitch,” he said.