Pakistan 174 for 9 (Anwar 46, Afridi 45) beat Sri Lanka 172 for 7 (Kapugedera 48*, Jayasuriya 40) by one wicket
Scorecard and ball-by-ball details
Anwar Ali, a lethal No.9
Anwar Ali's heroics helped Pakistan chase down 173 against Sri Lanka with four balls to spare, sealing the series for the visitors
Anwar Ali, Pakistan's No. 9 batsman, waltzed into the belly of a baying Premadasa with 66 required from 35 balls, and produced a cataclysmic 46 from 17 balls, to help prise stunning victory from the clutches of almost-certain defeat. He brought the chase of 173 to sudden life when he plundered two sixes and a four off debutant Shehan Jayasuriya in the 17th over, before treating Thisara Perera and Lasith Malinga with almost as much disdain to send Pakistan to within eight runs of victory.
Malinga had Anwar caught behind in the penultimate over, and another wicket would also fall two balls later, but Imad Wasim was on hand to provide the finish. Binura Fernando had the task of defending six runs in the final over, but Mohammad Irfan pinched a single first ball, then Wasim socked the next delivery over the wide long-on rope to spark celebrations in the Pakistan camp.
Long before even Anwar's innings, Pakistan appeared to be tumbling to a heavy loss at 40 for 5 in the eighth over. It had been Shahid Afridi's brutal 22-ball 45 that lit the flame that Anwar stoked into the inferno that devoured Sri Lanka. The hosts have now lost all three series in this tour, though in mitigation, they were fielding six players with two T20 international caps or fewer, in this match.
Perhaps it was the inexperience that saw Pakistan gain a foothold in the match. Afridi kept making room against the spinners early in his innings, but instead of darting it at his body, Milinda Siriwardana sent two balls at the stumps, which Afridi swung away for a four and a six to get his assault in motion, in the tenth over.
More huge strikes would follow from Afridi's blade soon after. Malinga was tonked over deep square leg in the eleventh over, and Jeffrey Vandersay was blasted over the leg-side rope twice. Sri Lanka may have felt they had quelled the Pakistan surge when they got rid of Afridi and Mohammad Rizwan within five deliveries, and the required rate had crept up to 12, by the end of the 15th over, but Anwar had the measure of the pitch and the bowling almost from the beginnings of his innings.
His fifth ball, from Jayasuriya, was swatted over cow corner for six, another slog-sweep carried the ball over deep square leg, before the over was finished with a searing drive to the long-on fence. Next over he walloped two Thisara Perera full-tosses to the fence. Then with 20 runs needed from 12 balls, he carted the first three balls of Malinga in the 19th over for 12. Only towards the end of this barrage did victory even seem possible for Pakistan. They ended up getting there with four balls to spare.
All this after the young Sri Lanka bowlers, backed by an enlivened, youthful fielding unit had gutted Pakistan's top order. Binura dismissed the openers, Mohammad Hafeez and Umar Akmal were run-out thanks to some sublime work in the field, and an advancing Shoaib Malik was beaten comprehensively by Siriwardana, in his first T20 international over.
Sri Lanka will feel 172 for 7 was a score they should have defended on a slow surface. Earlier, Chamara Kapugedara eased years of frustration and sent a packed Colombo crowd into raptures as he blasted 48 not out from 25, after Sri Lanka had themselves been in some bother at 90 for 5 in the 13th over.
Kapugedara built gradually to the crescendo, missing an attempted glide to third man first ball, before squeezing a few runs into the outfield to get himself to 11 off 13 balls. His charge began in the 17th over when he skipped down the track to send a Sohail Tanvir delivery over the long-on rope first, before repeating the stroke off Anwar Ali next over.
He hit Irfan for a four and six successively, but saved his most winning shot for the final over. Anticipating a ball on the stumps from Tanvir, Kapugedara shuffled across to the off side and whipped the full-length delivery high over deep square leg for his fourth six of the innings. Though he didn't quite manage a fifty, he left the field bat raised, soaking in rousing applause.
The rest of the Sri Lanka innings had mostly been built piecemeal by the young batsmen. Jayasuriya's 40 from from 32 balls was the most substantial top-order contribution. Siriwardana capped a fine first international tour with a useful 23 off 19.
Pakistan's one-wicket victory places them third on the T20 rankings. Sri Lanka, who are still top-placed, have some difficult issues to grapple with. Malinga's depleted menace after surgery is chief among them.