Danyal Rasool is a sub-editor at ESPNcricinfo. @Danny61000
Pakistan 253 for 2 (Ameen 123, Muneeba 56, Maroof 36*, Dilhari 1-43) beat Sri Lanka 180 for 9 (Madavi 41, Dilhari 32, Sana 4-26, Sohail 2-35) by 73 runs
The victory was spearheaded by a sensational 123 by Ameen - her second ODI century - as part of a record 158-run opening stand with Muneeba. Ameen's 150-ball knock was complemented by a more sedate 100-ball 56 from her partner, before cameos from Bismah Maroof and Nida Dar ensured Pakistan finished with a strong 253 for 2. Sri Lanka, in response, never got into top gear and seemed content to put together a respectable total as they huffed and puffed their way to 180 for 9 in their 50 overs.
A somewhat enterprising start to the chase immediately ran into problems once Sana removed Hasini Perera for 14. While most Sri Lankan batters put together steady contributions, Pakistan's chances of victory were rarely threatened.
The story though could have been different. Opting to bat first for the first time this series, Pakistan enjoyed a huge reprieve when Ameen was put down at the slips before scoring a run. It was an error she ensured Sri Lanka regretted for the next three hours. A chanceless century would follow thereon, with runs ticking over and a solid platform being built, and it felt, in slow motion, as if Sri Lanka were being batted out of the contest.
Muneeba, too, was reprieved once, when a sharp caught-and-bowled chance was dropped by Kavisha Dilhari. She spent most of the innings playing second fiddle to the more exuberant Ameen as Pakistan clocked their first-ever century opening stand in an ODI. They continued pressing on, and it wasn't until the 36th over that Muneeba, looking to force the issue, holed out to point.
Sidra soon got to her hundred with a sweep past fine leg, but by now, Maroof was helping ensure Pakistan moved through the gears more quickly. From that point on, the last 40 balls yielded 57 runs as Pakistan breached the 250-run mark, setting Sri Lanka the highest total of the series to chase.
Sri Lanka's innings was defined by caution, and yet interspersed with some puzzlingly rash decision-making. While they were far too timorous against the bowlers, especially when there was generous flight on offer, there were also the obligatory run-outs, both coming at key stages. There was also uncertainty in the approach. A bright start was stymied when the first wicket fell; it would come in a passage of play that saw four powerplay overs bowled without a run scored.
From there on, in truth, this was less of a match and more of a practice drill and the Pakistan bowlers were never quite shaken out of their rhythms. Nida Dar made amends for a dropped catch by putting an end to Chamari Athapaththu's plodding innings, while Hansima Karunaratne sent Sana's flighted half-volley straight down long on's throat. Each of the top seven batters got to double figures while the target seemed increasingly irrelevant to the contest actually playing out.
Sana returned to get two more lower-order wickets, and when Diana Baig picked up the ninth wicket, Sri Lanka's only aim appeared to be to prevent getting bowled out.
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SL Women Innings
|PM Weerakkody||run out||20||42|
|H Madavi||run out||41||48|
|NND de Silva||caught||17||18|
|I Ranaweera||not out||2||28|
|WGAKK Kulasuriya||not out||3||10|
|Extras||(lb 1, nb 1, w 5)|
|Total||180(9 wkts; 50 ovs)|
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