Pakistan eye series win against SL

KARACHI: ODI cricket in Karachi is synonymous with a storehouse of memorable matches. The drama of Waqar Younis running through West Indies’ lower order with reverse swing to power the hosts to a tense win in 1990, or India’s nail-biting triumph in 2005 is recounted from one generation to another.So, when ODI cricket returned to Karachi after 10 long years, there was excitement and witnesses of tales of past heroics. To make it a great day for home fans, Pakistan took a 1-0 lead with a comfortable 67-run victory in the second ODI versus Sri Lanka on Monday.After the first match was washed out due to persistent rain, the home team would have been pleased with their clinical show. Babar Azam continued to compile tall scores and ended up with his 11th ODI century.Meanwhile, Usman Shinwari, who hadn’t played an ODI since March, found movement and attacked the stumps to pick up a five-for. Pakistan’s batsmen also were able to adapt to the slow nature of the wicket. Azam, in particular, took his game to an elevated level by bisecting gaps at will. Iftikhar Ahmed, who mostly bats at number four for the Punjab Province in List A cricket, also showcased his skills with an aggressive hand lower down the order.As the caravan moves over to the final ODI at the same stadium, the hosts still have a few worries. Sarfraz Ahmed, the Pakistan skipper, hasn’t been in good form in the 50-over format. The wicketkeeper-batsman didn’t exactly have a good time in the World Cup, finishing with only one fifty and eked out just eight runs while batting in the slog overs in the second ODI versus Sri Lanka. The tourists, meanwhile, looked quite flat on the field. There were a string of misfields, with the stand-in skipper, Lahiru Thirimanne himself making a few errors. To make matters worse, the batting line-up crumbled as Sri Lanka slid to a pitiful 28 for 5 while chasing a sizeable 306.However, there is usually a silver lining in defeat, and that came in the form of the 177-run stand between Shehan Jayasuriya and Dasun Shanaka for the sixth wicket to take the tourists to a score of some respectability. Jayasuriya and Shanaka, who have played only 11 and 21 ODIs respectively, would certainly take enough positives from the game. Just that for Sri Lanka to draw the bilateral rubber 1-1, they need more players to step up and contribute.Even though the likes of Mohammad Hasnain, the tearaway, and Asif Ali, the hard-hitting batsman, are waiting in the wings, the home team would be tempted to go in with the same side that triumphed in the second ODI.Squads: Pakistan: Sarfraz Ahmed (c), Babar Azam, Abid Ali, Asif Ali, Fakhar Zaman, Haris Sohail, Mohammad Hasnain, Iftikhar Ahmed, Imad Wasim, Imam-ul-Haq, Mohammad Amir, Mohammad Nawaz, Mohammad Rizwan, Shadab Khan, Usman Khan Shinwari, Wahab RiazSri Lanka: Lahiru Thirimanne (c), Danushka Gunathilaka, Sadeera Samarawickrama, Avishka Fernando, Oshada Fernando, Shehan Jayasuriya, Dasun Shanaka, Minod Bhanuka, Angelo Perera, Wanindu Hasaranga, Lakshan Sandakan, Nuwan Pradeep, Isuru Udana, Kasun Rajitha, Lahiru Kumara.

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