Medium pacer Hasan Ali finished with a career best bowling to once again anchor Pakistan’s convincing seven-wicket win over Sri Lanka in the first Twenty20 in Abu Dhabi on Thursday.
Ali, who took 14 wickets in Pakistan’s preceding 5-0 whitewash of the one-day series, took 3-23 in 3.3 overs as Pakistan restricted Sri Lanka to a paltry 102 in 18.3 overs.
Only Seekkuge Prasanna (23 not out) and debutant Sadeera Samarawickrama (23) put some resistance against a varied Pakistan bowling attack.
Pakistan did lose Fakhar Zaman (six), Babar Azam (one) and Ahmed Shehzad (22) but were seen through to the target by Shoaib Malik 42 not out and Mohammad Hafeez 25 not out with 16 balls to spare. That gave Pakistan a 1-0 lead in the three-match series.
Malik hit four boundaries in his 31-ball knock while Hafeez’s 23-ball innings had three hits to the ropes as the pair added 39 for the unbroken fourth wicket stand.
It was again Pakistan’s bowling that led them to victory.
Sri Lanka lost wickets at regular intervals after looking to build the innings at 51-2 in the ninth over. But they lost their last eight wickets for another 51 runs and were bowled out for their second lowest Twenty20 total against Pakistan. All six Pakistan bowlers took wickets with spinner Mohammad Hafeez (2-10) and pacer Usman Shinwari (2-24) supplementing Ali to the best effect.
Skipper Sarfraz Ahmed praised his bowling. “The basic aim is to get wickets and that we are doing,” said Ahmed, whose team has now bowled the oppositions all out for the 23rd time—the most by any team in all Twenty20 cricket. “It was a complete team effort and we are doing everything well,” said Ahmed, who now has 10 wins in 12 Twenty20 internationals as captain.
Sri Lankan skipper Thisara Perera admitted his team was undone by Pakistan’s superior bowling. “If we look back we didn’t score runs so we have to put a good total on the board to win, full marks to Pakistan’s bowling which is one of the best in the world at the moment,” said Perera, captaining Sri Lanka for the first time.
Sent into bat, Sri Lanka lost Dilshan Munaweera for nought off the third ball of the first over while Dashun Gunathilaka made 11-ball 18 with three boundaries. Samarawickrama and Ashan Priyanjan (12) had added 22 for the third wicket but wicket started to fall in cluster and Sri Lanka could never recover.
Just like in one-day series, Ali was at his best in taking wickets, removing Sachith Pathirana (four), Isuru Udana (nought) and Vikum Sanjaya (four) to improve on his previous best of 3-49 against the West Indies in Dubai last year. Perera made six. It was left to Prasanna to hit two sixes in his run-a-ball 23 to get past 100-mark.
The second match is also in Abu Dhabi on Friday before the teams fly to Lahore for the last match on Sunday.