Another inexplicable display of Sunday league fielding and irresponsible batting saw Pakistan lose to Sri Lanka by 13 runs in the third and final T20I at the Gaddafi Stadium Lahore on Wednesday.
The result heaped on the world’s top-ranked T20I side the embarrassment of being whitewashed 3-0 on their own turf by a side that had not only left as many as 10 players home but was also resting five others.
At first, Sarfaraz and co dropped a plethora of catches, which largely went unpunished as a third-string Sri Lanka side posted a 148-run target — hardly sizable by any means.
However, familiar batting woes emerged as Pakistan failed to chased down even that modest looking target.
Where the match was lost: The trio of Babar Azam, Haris Sohail and Sarfaraz Ahmed batted slowly in the middle overs and lost their wickets when fully set. The pace of their scoring left for the lower-order batsmen a mountain to climb.
Player of the match: Wanindu Haranga for his 3-21 (wickets of Sohail, Sarfaraz and Asif)
Player of the series: Wanindu Hasaranga for 9 wickets in the series
Sri Lanka innings
Sri Lanka, after winning the toss and opting to bat first, sent in Danushka Gunathilaka and Sadeera Samarawickrama to open their innings. Meanwhile, Imad Wasim and Usman Shinwari shared the new ball for the hosts.
Sri Lanka did not start any differently than they had in the first two matches, with a couple of early boundaries forcing captain Sarfaraz Ahmed to change bowlers instantly.
Sarfaraz, already under immense pressure, invited more criticism by dropping a catch off of Mohammad Amir’s bowling in the 3rd over.
The left-arm pacer took the matter in his own hands a few balls later, bowling out the in-form Gunathilaka (8).
Another catch was downed in the very next over, with the usually brilliant Shadab Khan being the culprit. But as it happened in the last over, a wicket eventually came with Samarawickrama (12) being caught plumb in front of the wicket.
Amir removed another dangerous leftie when he had Bhanuka Rajapaksa caught in deep-backward square leg. For once, a Pakistani fielder, Asif Ali, took a good catch despite almost being on the boundary line.
After five overs, Sri Lanka were 30-3 and Pakistan, for once, were in control of a match in the series.
With the game effectively being a dead rubber, the Sri Lankans were a bit careless in their approach. They lost the fourth wicket to a run out when Angelo Perera inexplicably did not dive with the ball racing towards the batting end.
Almost all the bowlers had done a decent job for Pakistan except for Shinwari. He was brought back for the 10th over and once again went for tuns. At the halfway mark, Sri Lanka were 72-4.
Sri Lanka, in a difficult condition, found an unlikely hero in debutant Oshada Fernando, who seemlessly contributed a half century. He and Dasun Shanaka took the score to 104-4 at the end of 15 overs.
While Fernando carried the innings, captain Shanaka struggled immensely. His laborious knock of a dozen runs that consumed 25 balls came to an end when Fakhar Zaman took a forward diving catch in the deep in the 18th over.
In the end, Fernando finished unbeaten at 78 off just 48 balls. The stylish right-hander hit 8 fours and 3 sixes as Sri Lanka finished at 147-7 in their 20 overs.
The run chase
The Greenshirts once again suffered a horrible start to their run chase, losing their first wicket on the very first ball of the innings. Fakhar Zaman was the casualty as he was bowled by Kasun Rajitha.
Haris Sohail and Babar Azam, Pakistan’s best batsmen, were tasked with anchoring the innings and help their side secure a face-saving win. The duo did not disappoint, guiding Pakistan to 63-1 at the halfway mark.
But their 76-run stand was broken in the 12th over when Lahiru Kumara had Azam caught behind. He contributed 27 off 32 balls.
Sohail, who had overshadowed Azam for much of their partnership, brought up his 50 in the 14th over.
With Sarfaraz Ahmed struggling for runs, the responsibility was on Sohail’s shoulders to bat till the end. But in the 16th over he came down the track and was stumped out.
Imad Wasim followed him back in the pavilion soon after. He chipped in with just three.
Asif Ali and Sarfaraz did not last long as the possibility of a 3-0 whitewash neared.
In the end, the team’s worst fears were realised as it fell 13 runs short of the target despite Iftikhar Ahmed and Wahab Riaz’s late efforts.
As expected Pakistan dropped supremely out-of-form batsmen Ahmed Shehzad and Umar Akmal to make way for Haris Sohail and Iftikhar Ahmed.
Mohammad Hasnain, who claimed a hat-trick in the opening T20I, has also been replaced by Usman Shinwari.
Sri Lanka, having already bagged the series, made five changes to their line-up, effectively making this a second-string version of their already depleted side.
Pakistan: Fakhar Zaman, Babar Azam, Haris Sohail, Iftikhar Ahmed, Sarfraz Ahmed (capt.) (wk), Asif Ali, Imad Wasim, Shadab Khan, Wahab Riaz, Mohammad Amir, Usman Shinwari
Sri Lanka: Danushka Gunathilaka, Sadeera Samarawickrama (wk), Bhanuka Rajapaksa, Angelo Perera, Oshada Fernando, Dasun Shanaka (capt), Wanindu Hasaranga, Lahiru Madushanka, Lakshan Sandakan, Kasun Rajitha, Lahiru Kumara
(Courtesy The News – Pakistan)