Image courtesy of: ESPNcricinfo
Sri Lanka all-rounder Thisara Perera took four wickets and opening batsman Tillakaratne Dilshan smashed a brilliant half-century to give their side a seven-wicket win over Pakistan via the Duckworth-Lewis method in the third ODI in Dambulla.
In addition to that, this win also ensured that Sri Lanka won the series 2-1.
Pakistan captain Misbah-ul-Haq would have been regretting his decision to bat first since his team never got out of the starting blocks.
Apart from ul-Haq, who scored 18, Ahmed Shehzad, who made 10, and Fawad Alam, who top-scored with 38, none of the other Pakistani batsmen were able to reach double figures.
Pakistan were given some hope on 81/8 when the heavens parted, but the match was only delayed for 50 minutes and cut down to 48 overs per side.
However, Sri Lanka continued to launch their offensive and Pakistan were ultimately bowled out for a dismal 102, which they scored off 32.1 overs.
Perera caused a lot of the damage with four wickets, while Dhammika Prasad snapped up two and Lasith Malinga, Rangana Herath and Seekkuge Prasanna chipped in with one wicket apiece.
Chasing an easy target of 103 to win, Sri Lanka got off to a solid start as Dilshan and Upul Tharanga amassed a 46-run partnership before Tharanga was clean bowled by Mohammad Irfan for 14.
Kumar Sangakkara only made two runs before he was caught by Mohammad Hafeez at second slip off the bowling of Wahab Riaz.
Mahela Jayawardene managed to make 26 before he was caught by Hafeez at slip off the bowling of Saeed Ajmal.
However, despite losing a few quick wickets, Sri Lanka still ended up chasing down their target with just under 30 overs remaining.
Dilshan finished on 50 off 55 balls, which included nine boundaries.
Image courtesy of: ESPNcricinfo
Irfan, Riaz and Ajmal claimed one wicket each.
Ul-Haq was humiliated by his side’s performance, and said: “The wicket is a bit different in Dambulla. [It’s the] spongy bounce you need to get used to, but if you scored 240 or 250, that would have been useful. But we lost too many wickets early on. Fawad and I were trying to be there till the 30th over. We tried to put up a fight, but again we lost too many wickets. We have a little bit of a picture of what we want to do in the coming series. We will play the World Cup in Australia, and the management will think about that. Australia series is really important, we have to get the right combination. The crowd is very good, we always enjoy here. The result hasn’t been great, but the experience in Sri Lanka was.”
Sri Lanka captain Angelo Mathews was pleased to have won the decider, and said: “To come after that defeat in Hambantota, we had to pull up our socks. The bowlers set the tone, Dhammika and Malinga early and then Thisara. I wanted to experiment a little, give Thisara more opportunities and Dhammika has also proven he is a very good bowler in the past few series. The pitch was doing a little bit in the early hours and then it flattened out a little bit, but when you’re chasing 100 you should play positive cricket and not block. We’ll just have a few days off and train for England. Tough against Pakistan, good balanced team so all the very best for their future tournaments.”
Perera was named Man of the Match and Man of the Series, and said: “First of all, I’m proud of my all-round performances. It’s a good wicket to bowl, as a bowling unit we’ve done really well. It’s just confidence, last match I bowled well and came back strongly. I’m going to work on my bowling and keep getting better. [I’m going to] try my best, and if I have chances to play more than 10 overs I’ll do my best.”