Its the 18th of October. For Sri Lanka and Pakistan cricket fans, it only meant one thing. The third ODI of the Sri Lanka Vs. Pakistan series was happening. For Sri Lanka of course, it was the series decider. Following up on 2 wins, a win here for Pakistan meant that Sri Lanka would lose the ODI series. Unfortunately, for Sri Lanka that was the case, thanks mostly to Hasan Ali and debutant Imam-Ul-Haq.
Sri Lanka batting first: They came, they saw, they were conquered
Batting first, Sri Lanka were off to a decent start. Upul Tharanga and Niroshan Dickwella put up 59 together for the first wicket before Dickwella fell to Hasan Ali at the 11th over. Things pretty much went downhill for Sri Lanka afterwards. Dinesh Chandimal came in at number 3, only to be caught lbw to Shadab Khan for 19 runs in 49 balls, complimented by an unnecessary review. You wouldn’t be wrong to assume that maybe Chandimal forgot this was an ODI.
Tharanga on the other hand seemed to be in fine form, driving the likes of Rummam Raees and Junaid Khan every now and then. But the early wickets made Sri Lanka crawl back to their shell once again. Tharanga’s fine form didn’t seem to be so fine later on. Nevertheless, he still managed to tick in 61 runs to the scoreboard, the highest score in Sri Lanka’s innings.
What followed Tharanga’s dismissal was what we’ve seen in the last couple of ODIs. A decent start followed by a disappointing collapse. Of course, the Pakistanis never made things easy either. The match started with the run rate at a little over 6. Halfway through Sri Lanka’s innings, the rate dropped to below 4. Wickets fell. In 36 overs, Sri Lanka were 141/6 (from 59/0 at 10.4 overs). In case you’re wondering, that’s 6 wickets that fell for 82 runs.
Even with Thisara Perera’s 37 ball 38, Sri Lanka were eventually gunned down for 200 runs. Hasan Ali walked away with 5 victims under his belt. Pakistan only needed 201 on the board to win the match and seal the series.
Imam-Ul-Haq: Carrying Pakistan through to victory
For Pakistan, their innings required only a calm and steady approach. The batsman obliged with a little bit more than that. Kicking off the innings, Fakhar Zaman and Imam put up 78 runs for the opening stand. Vandersay managed to break off the opening partnership by the 17th over, with Fakhar falling for 29 runs.
Babar Azam came in next and helped with 30 runs. Pakistan were 2 down for 144 by the 30th over. But by then the end result seemed obvious. Pakistan were well on their way to victory, thanks largely to the 21 year old debutant Imam-Ul-Haq, who scored his maiden century. This was only the 13th instance where a debutant scored a century.
But Imam nearly missed his ton. During the 37th over, Dushmantha Chameera’s indipper gave an inside edge through Imam’s bat and landed in the gloves of Dickwella. He walked off at 89 even before the decision was given. But the umpires decided to check the legality of the catch and to his luck, the ball seemed to have marginally touched the ground before landing in the wicketkeeper’s gloves. Eventually he did fall at 100 to Thisara Perera. But it was too far too late. Hasan Ali and Imam-Ul-Haq had sealed the deal for Pakistan.
What happens now?
With only 3 ODI matches in, Pakistan have already won the series. This was their 7th consecutive win and Sri Lanka’s 10th loss in a row. What remains now are 2 ODI matches that will in no way change the result of the series. But winning these 2 matches (or at least trying to ) would mean Sri Lanka would at least gain a bit of confidence moving forward. On the other hand, now that the pressure of winning the series is gone, perhaps the Lankan team can at least try to focus on performing better. But that’s just being too optimistic by the looks of it. Still, one can only hope.
Feature Image Credits: Sri Lanka Cricket, cricketcountry.com
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