Pakistan v Sri Lanka, 2nd T20, Dubai December 13, 2013

SL retain top ranking with series-levelling win

236

Sri Lanka 211 for 3 (Perera 84, Dilshan 48, Sangakkara 44*) beat Pakistan 187 (Sharjeel 50, Senanayake 3-27) by 24 runs
Scorecard and ball-by-ball details

Passive on Wednesday, punishing on Friday - Sri Lanka's top order were fearsome in their defence of the top Twenty20 team ranking, as they slammed 211 for 3 to set up a 24-run, series-levelling win. The total was the highest ever against Pakistan, and was held together by Kusal Perera's 59-ball 84, which began in a breakneck 100-run stand with Tillakaratne Dilshan, and finished in a blazing 78-run partnership with Kumar Sangakkara in the late overs.

Sri Lanka's reticence in the first match had allowed Pakistan's bowlers to strike a comfortable rhythm, but this time, their intent to define the action was unmistakable from the outset. Pakistan played two inexperienced seam bowlers in their attack once more, but Sri Lanka's openers shredded had Bilawal Bhatti's confidence and pummelled Usman Khan by the end of the Powerplay.

A six and a four over point off Perera's swift blade heralded the onslaught, before Tillakaratne Dilshan joined the melee with a scoop over fine leg, off his fourth ball. There was rarely a second's respite for Pakistan after that.

Perera and Dilshan were severe when the bowlers strayed, but many Pakistan frailties were also of the batsmen's own making. Dilshan was the more forceful partner in the opening stand, and the ease with which he hit to unconventional parts of the ground forced field changes that made other, more familiar areas accessible. It is exactly the sort of dynamic Sri Lanka have hoped to achieve with this hyper-aggressive pair. Nothing quite spoils an opposition game plan like a rampant opening stand. Once the bowling was despatched to the boundary, poor deliveries almost invariably followed.

In between the boundaries, Perera could not turn over the strike as effortlessly as Dilshan, but he gained ground with brief, calculated surges. Afridi had delivered his first over for eight runs, but Perera was determined not to allow the bowler to settle. He made room to chop the third ball of the tenth over for four, before running down the pitch to swipe the next delivery through square leg.

Still unsatisfied, he advanced again to play perhaps his most violent stroke of the evening - a whip-like slog that fetched the ball from outside the off stump and sent it into the midwicket stands. Afridi had been the most miserly man in Pakistan's attack in the first match, but the fact that he bowled no more than two overs in the second makes plain the dramatic shift in Sri Lanka's batting mentality.

Dilshan fell to a reverse-slog sweep after the score reached triple figures - his ambition getting the better of him perhaps, leaving him two short of a fifty. Seekkuge Prasanna was promoted to No.3 on debut, and made good on his pinch-hitter billing with an 8-ball 21.

Sangakkara's increasing prowess in limited-overs cricket quickened Sri Lanka's already rapid progress, towards the end of the innings, as he peppered the fine-leg fence with his lap-scoop, and hit imperiously down the ground as well. Perera built towards a crescendo alongside him, launching Usman for consecutive sixes in the penultimate over, but he was run out for his highest international score on the final ball of the innings, after Sri Lanka had crossed 200 earlier in the over.

Pakistan burned white hot in patches of their reply but, dramatic though these surges were, none were sustained for long enough to suggest they would complete what would have been the biggest Twenty20 chase in history. In his third Twenty20, Sharjeel Khan alone among Pakistan's top order married belligerence to good judgement, and he prospered through the early overs while team-mates lost their nerve, and their wickets, at the other end. Two gargantuan sixes off Prasanna in the tenth over took Sharjeel to 50 off 24 balls but, perhaps a little excited by the occasion, he walked across his stumps on the next ball and let an innocuous full toss bowl him around the legs.

The task was too steep for an in-form Shahid Afridi as well, and though he mauled Prasanna himself - helping plunder 25 from the 12th over - he sent one high off the top-edge on 28, which Sangakkara initially overran, then corrected brilliantly, to snatch with one glove.

Sohail Tanvir waged his own, valiant battle, largely with Saeed Ajmal for company, but even with a wet ball, affected by dew, Sri Lanka managed enough decent deliveries to protect their massive total. The ninth-wicket stand of 63 brought Pakistan to within 29 runs of victory with two overs remaining, but Lasith Malinga ensured his team would not falter at the close. Sachithra Senanayake took 3 for 27.

Andrew Fidel Fernando is ESPNcricinfo's Sri Lanka correspondent. He tweets here

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • tvumpire.com on December 18, 2013, 10:30 GMT

    @ IND_girl . How can you forget that same legendary team got thrashed by BD and NZ at home!

  • MichaelBurton on December 18, 2013, 10:11 GMT

    @Blade-Runnar : Don't be too negative on your team. Because they are playing well against strong Pak. You have very good young talent like Kusal and Senayake. Both played extremely well in the Pak match. Even, your SL team played extremely well in SA with 1 test win and 2 ODI wins. Your young players Thirimana and Chandimal faced facy and bouncy SA attack very well.Our socalled legends Kholi, Dhawan are sitting ducks in SA. We were whitewashed in ODIs and I am sure this will happen in tests too.

  • MichaelBurton on December 18, 2013, 9:57 GMT

    @Blade-Runnar : Don't be too negative on your team. Because they are playing well against strong Pak. You have very good young talent like Kusal and Senayake. Both played extremely well in the Pak match. Even, your SL team played extremely well in SA with 1 test win and 2 ODI wins. Your young players Thirimana and Chandimal faced facy and bouncy SA attack very well.Our socalled legends Kholi, Dhawan are sitting ducks in SA. We were whitewashed in ODIs and I am sure this will happen in tests too.

  • dummy4fb on December 18, 2013, 6:36 GMT

    i think pakistan win this series 4-1,this seris i think only sanga,malinga,mathews are confidance payer any other not sure,pakistan bowling verry hard pakistan bowlers target only sanga,sanga and mahela only struck on pakistan bowling

  • Sports4Youth on December 16, 2013, 15:11 GMT

    It looks like the professors days are now numbered as a player and even as a Captain.

  • electrci_loco_WAP4 on December 16, 2013, 10:03 GMT

    NO:1 team thrashed by no:3 few days back and now luckily we escaped from other humiliation. Even a no:9 can score easily against our useless bowlers. Just wonder how long we can proclaim as world no:1. Even in T20 we are running on Dilshan and Sanga. We need to open our eyes rather than jumping with joy!

  • mark2011 on December 16, 2013, 9:59 GMT

    @ anoop3301 on (December 16, 2013, 3:08 GMT); India the so called home champions were miserably defeated by SA for 2-0, it was eminent 3-0 white wash just survived due to rain... the so called Indian batting mechines collapsed and margin of defeats were huges......130+ in both games... wow no one can make such records...and even young DeCock scored 3 consecutive centuries angainst Indi's great bowling attack making them like street bowlers

  • electrci_loco_WAP4 on December 16, 2013, 9:36 GMT

    It is pity that SL still running on oldies even in T20! In which T20 team seniors are playing? Ricky ponting, Clarke, Tendulkar, Dravid all give up T20 even if they had the opportunity. It is pathetic that SL seniors compared with the no:9 batsmen of opposition as both of them scored 40s.

  • Tal_Botvinnik on December 16, 2013, 9:05 GMT

    anoop3301 : LOL Your team is nothing but flat track bullies, recently trashed by junaid khan and co. at your home soil.

  • Sports4Youth on December 16, 2013, 5:51 GMT

    SHAHID KHAN AFRIDI BOOM-BOOM was doing just fine in the shorter formats as captain. The team had made good progress. Against all hope They reached the semi-finals in the world cup. Then happened the Waqar-Afridi fiasco. Everyone agreed that Waqar should not have infered in Afridi's decisions as captain. Waqar should not have tried to force his choice of players on Afridi. But in the end Afridi had to pay the price. Even in Comentary WAQAR looks for every opportunity to criticise Afridi. THE FINAL RESULT IS THAT TILL DATE THE SELECTORS ARE TRYING HARD TO KEEP AFRIDI AWAY FROM THE CAPTAINCY AND THE TEAM IS PAYING THE PRICE OF IT.

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