In a space of three days, Pakistan won twice against Sri Lanka in the two T-20 matches and bagged the series 2-0. Both games were played at Colombo’s R Premadasa Stadium. While the first game on July 30, 2015 had an authoritative Pakistani stamp, the second played on August 1 was an edge-of-the-seat last-over thriller. After setting a victory target of 173, Sri Lanka removed 7 Pakistani batsmen for 107 in the 15th over. The dangerous Shahid Afridi was the seventh wicket that fell in Pakistan’s innings after he had scored 45 off 22 balls with 4 sixes. Sri Lanka had the advantage since it was unfathomable that the Pakistani tail could score the required 66 runs off the remaining 35 balls. But to their stunning dismay, Pakistan’s no.9 batsman Anwar Ali changed the course of the game with a blistering 17-ball 46 runs and extracted a one-wicket win for his side.
In the first T20 Match, Pakistan batted first and piled up 175/5, helped by three scores of 46 from Ahmed Shehzad, Shoaib Malik and Umar Akmal. The figure of 46 became magical as the Pakistani batsmen fearlessly thrashed star bowler Lasith Malinga for 46 in his 4-over spell. When Sri Lanka came on to chase 176, they lost three wickets for 19 runs by the 4th over. Though Dhananjaya de Silva, Angelo Mathews and Milinda Sriwardana tried to make a comeback, Pakistani bowlers kept the pressure and allowed only 146 runs to be scored. Pakistan had a comfortable 29-run victory and they led the two-match series 1-0.
In the second T-20 game two days later, it seemed that the roles had been reversed. Sri Lanka won the toss and batted first. Despite losing 5 wickets for 90 by the 13th over, Sri Lanka found a late surge from Sriwardana and Chamara Kapugedera, who took the score to 145 by the 19th over. After Sriwardana departed, Kapugedera still had 11 deliveries left. He made a late blast and Sri Lanka ended their 20 overs at 172/7. Kapugedera remained unbeaten on 48 scored off 25 balls with 2 fours and 4 sixes.
Coming on to chase 173, Pakistan lost 5 wickets for just 40 runs in the 8th over. But Mohammad Rizwan and Shahid Afridi recouped Pakistan’s innings with a 61-run 6th wicket partnership. Just when Pakistan was about to bounce back into the match, they lost Shahid Afridi as the 7th wicket. Afridi had flayed the Sri Lankan bowlers with his characteristically flamboyant knock of 45 off 22 balls and he looked like getting further. At 107/7 in the 15th over, the balance was clearly in Sri Lanka’s favor as 66 runs were still required from 35 balls.
At this point, Anwar Ali walked out in the middle. With him on the other end was Imad Wasim, who had made his T-20 debut less than three months ago at Lahore against Zimbabwe. In a little over 4 overs, the two batsmen plundered 58 runs and brought Pakistan to within a touching distance of a thrilling victory. Anwar Ali departed but he had done his job with a quick-fire 46 off 17 balls that contained 3 fours and 4 sixes. The issue was settled in the 17th over, when Anwar Ali blasted debutant Shehan Jayasuriya for two sixes and a four. The Pakistani was fearless against Thisara Perera and Lasith Malinga and when he got out Pakistan needed just 8 runs for victory and they had 8 balls left in the match. There was a slight hiccup for Pakistan towards the end, when Tanvir also fell, but Imad Wasim and Mohammad Irfan were on hand to carry them to the target. Binura Fernando had the unenviable task of defending six runs in the final over. By snatching a single off the first ball, Mohammad Irfan brought Wasim to the batting end. Wasim didn’t wait and lofted Fernando’s second delivery for a six to complete the stunning victory with 4 balls remaining.
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