Abu Dhabi: Pakistan will be going to Lahore as winners. They will only aim for a series whitewash, second consecutive in limited-overs cricket, in the T20 International game at home.
The stage is set-up after they won the second T20I against Sri Lanka in Abu Dhabi by two wickets on Friday. The home crowd in Lahore will like to see a similar performance from their team as they did in Abu Dhabi.
In a thrilling match, Pakistan chased down a target of 125 runs on the penultimate ball of the match with only two wickets in hand. Shadab Khan was the hero in the final over as he hit a six when Pakistan needed eight runs from three balls and then ran a couple to win the game for his team.
The win was set-up by Faheem Ashraf who became the first Pakistan bowler to hat-trick and along with Shadab and other bowlers who structured a Sri Lanka collapse. The Lankas slipped from 106 for 1 to 120 for 9, losing eight wickets for 14 runs.
They had begun well with Gunathilaka and Munaweera adding 43 runs for the first wicket. Though the start was slow, it was one of the rare starts where Sri Lanka did not lose a wicket in the powerplay. Munaweera was run-out, the first of five in this match, when Imad Wasim came up with a direct-hit.
Sadeera Samarawickrama added 59 runs with Gunathilaka before he was also run-out. Sri Lanka had laid a brilliant platform to launch the final attack but Gunathilaka fell after making his half-century.
No other Sri Lanka batsmen could stay at the crease as Faheem and Shadab curbed the run flow. Shadab took only one wicket in his four overs but gave only 16 runs. Faheem gave the same number of runs but in three overs for three wickets.
The chase was expected to be a cakewalk but Pakistan were reduced to 31 for 2 with Fakhar Zaman and Babar Azam back in the hut. Sri Lanka captain Thisara Perera then brought himslef into the attack and he removed Ahmed Shehzad and Shoaib Malik to further reduce Pakistan to 55 for 4.
Sarfraz Ahmed and Mohammad Hafeez took the score to 95 the latter was dismissed before the captain was run-out. Perera picked up Imad Wasim as his third wicket and Sri Lanka needed 16 of the final two overs.
They managed only four runs in that and left 12 for the final over. Faheem was dismissed on the first ball but Udana could not keep the same intensity as Hasan Ali ran three runs to bring it down to 8 off 3.
The “million-dollar shot”, as described by Srafraz after the match, from Shadab was a straight six off a half-volley that sailed over the sight-screen. He then tucked the ball in the same area to run two.
With the series won, Pakistan can go out and play another top class game in Lahore, a city which will be waiting to welcome their heroes in grand style.