Sri Lanka chased down the target of 287 runs posted by Pakistan with 2 wickets in hand and 11 balls to go at Pallekele. Kusal Perera threatened Pakistan to finish the game very early but his dismissal brought a massive collapse in Sri Lankan batting order. The left-handed opener — who has been compared repeatedly with Sanath Jayasuriya — finally made good on his promise when he thrashed 13 fours and two sixes in an extravagant 25-ball 68. On the way he matched Jayasuriya’s record for the joint second-highest ODI half-century, off 17 balls.
Perera pulled Mohammad Irfan to Yasir Shah and Sri Lanka lost the momentum at alarming rate. Upul Tharanga was was bowled by Rahat for 28 off 36. Rahat started the slide when he bowled Dilshan for 47. Angelo Matthews was run out for 8 and Thirimane cut the straight to Anwar Ali off Rahat. Sri Lanka unravelled quickly; from 140 for 1 they crashed to 159 for 5 and then 196 for 6. Dinesh Chandimal and Milinda Siriwardana added 37 runs for the sixth wicket in good time to restore the confidence in hosts camp. Siriwardana inning of 26-runs off 28-balls ended when Hafeez trapped him LBW. This wicket brought Sachith Pathirana who went on to play the match defining inning. Pathirana played his shot and Chandimal anchored the inning. Pathirana smashed four fours and a six in his cameo of 33-runs off 28-balls. In this process, the duo added 52 runs for the seventh wicket. Again, Hafeez made the breakthrough when Pathirana was stumped but the damage was already done. Chandimal and Thisara Perera endured that Sri Lanka cross the line with two wickets in hand.
Earlier in the day, Pakistan’s batsmen capitalized on the foundation laid by skipper Azhar Ali. He batted sensibly by taking one’s and two’s and putting bad balls away. Azhar Ali (79-runs off 104-balls) completed his eighth fifty but couldn’t complete his hundred when he was caught by Siriwardana off Dilshan. Babar Azam was unable to make much of a contribution at No. 4, getting bowled by Milinda Siriwardana for 12.Shoaib Malik assessed the slow pitch of Pallekele very quickly and went on to hit a run-a-ball fifty with two boundaries and three sixes. Malik added 83-runs for the fourth wicket with skipper Azhar. Mohammad Rizwan fifty came off just 38 balls. Sarfraz Ahmed got a tough call when he was adjudged out LBW off Lasith Malinga for 7. He reviewed the call, but despite the fact that the ball would have barely clipped leg stump, the call stayed with the on-field umpire. Anwar Ali also played a good little cameo of 29-runs off 20 deliveries. It was Rizwan’s inning which extended Pakistan’s score to 287/8 which was looking only about 250 earlier.
Man of the Match: Kusal Perera.