LAHORE – Inexperienced Sri Lanka completed a 3-0 clean-sweep of their Twenty20 series over world number one Pakistan on Wednesday with a 13-run victory in Lahore. Chasing a modest 148-run target, Pakistan were on course for victory with Haris Sohail’s 50-ball 52 with four boundaries and a six but leg-spinner Wanindu Hasaranga turned the tables with 3-21 to restrict Pakistan to 134-6 in 20 overs.
Hasaranga had Sohail stumped in the 16th over and then dismissed Pakistan skipper Sarfaraz Ahmed (16-ball 17) in the 18th to give Sri Lanka victory on a match day designated as Pink Day for breast cancer awareness.
Oshada Fernando struck a brilliant 48-ball 78 with three sixes and eight boundaries — the highest by a Sri Lankan player on T20I debut — to lift Sri Lanka to 147-7 in their 20 overs.
Jehan Mubarak and Danushka Gunathilaka — who both scored 46 each — had held the previous record for most runs on Twenty20 debut for Sri Lanka.
Sri Lanka’s victory — their first-ever Twenty20 series whitewash — was achieved despite missing ten of their top players, including regular Twenty20 skipper Lasith Malinga, who refused to tour Pakistan over security fears.
But that did not hurt Sri Lanka as they staged a remarkable comeback after losing the one-day series 2-0 by winning the first two matches of the T20 series by 64 and 35 runs respectively.
Before this, Pakistan’s only Twenty20 whitewash was at the hands of England in United Arab Emirates in 2015.
Pakistan’s start was once again disastrous as they lost aggressive opener Fakhar Zaman off the first ball of their innings, bowled by Kasun Rajitha for nought.
Babar Azam (32-ball 27) and Sohail added 76 for the second wicket but Sri Lanka applied the brakes as boundaries dried up.
Iftikhar Ahmed hit a six and a boundary in his 17 but targets of 37 off the last two overs and 28 in the last were beyond Pakistan.
Earlier, Sri Lanka rode on a brilliant maiden half century by Fernando who held the innings together after Sri Lanka lost two wickets for 28 runs in four overs.
They then slumped to 58-4 with Bhanuka Rajapaksa, the star of the second match, falling for just three.
Fernando repaired the damage with a fighting 76-run stand for the fifth wicket with skipper Dasun Shanaka who made 12.
Pakistan were once again sloppy in the field, dropping as many as four catches while Sarfaraz spurned a stumping chance behind the wicket.
Paceman Mohammad Amir, who went wicket-less in the first two matches, finished with 3-27.
Sri Lanka’s tour furthered Pakistan’s efforts to revive international cricket in the country, suspended after terror attacks on the same team in March 2009.
Since then Pakistan have hosted a World XI, Sri Lanka (both in 2017) and the West Indies last year.
Series loss an eye-opener, something wrong with Pak’s cricket system: Misbah
Pakistan’s head coach Misbah-ul-Haq says the humiliating 0-3 hammering in a T20 series against a second-string Sri Lanka has opened his eyes to the fact that there is something seriously wrong with the country’s cricket system. Misbah, who has faced criticism since becoming the first man in Pakistan cricket to hold two top posts of head coach as well as chief selector, also rued the lack of talent at domestic level.
“This series has been an eye-opener for us and everyone else. These same players have been around for a while now. More or less the same team which made us number one and has been playing together for around three to four years now,” Misbah said after Pakistan lost the third and final T20I in Lahore on Wednesday. “The result of series is also an eye-opener for our system as well. If we can lose to a side without its main players how did we think we were number one,” he added. He said Sri Lanka completely outplayed his side in all departments of the game.
“We were poor and not even at par in all three departments against them. Sri Lanka outclassed us in every department, it was an almost one-sided series,” he said.
Asked about the poor form of young leg-spinner Shadab Khan, Misbah indicated the lack of talent in the country in this department.
“But tell me another wrist spinner who we can select to replace Shadab. Name one deserving wrist spinner on domestic circuit whom we did not select,” he retorted.
The 46-year-old former captain was sarcasm personified as he took questions from the media at the Gaddafi stadium in Lahore.
“Yes, I take responsibility for the series defeat. It is very disappointing and we played poorly. But this is same team which made us number one. Same players who have been playing for around three years. “If you want to blame me, fine. I have been just 10 days on the job and yes about changes, I asked a right hand batsman to start batting left-handed and told a left-hand bowler to start bowling right-hand, right,” he said.
Misbah also snapped when a journalist asked about the poor show by captain and wicket-keeper Sarfaraz Ahmed, who dropped catches and missed stumping chances.
“Yes, only the wicket-keeper is not playing well, the rest of the 10 players are doing so well,” he replied.
Asked what was wrong with the batting and why they struggled against spin, Misbah remarked: “Yes it is an eye-opener for us and should also be one for you (media) as well. You need to think now before writing they are finished without considering their past performances. “Shoaib Malik and Muhammad Hafeez are our most seasoned players and play spin very well. Our youngsters face pace very well but face problems against spinners, wrist spinners.” (With Inputs From PTI)