LAHORE: Pakistan beat Sri Lanka by 36 runs in the third and final T20I at Gaddafi Stadium on Sunday, winning the series 3-0.
The match marked the return of the Sri Lankan team to Pakistan eight years after their team bus was attacked in the same city, forcing the suspension of international cricket in the country.
Pakistan rode on Shoaib Malik’s 24-ball 51 to post a challenging 180-3 before restricting Sri Lanka to 144-9 in 20 overs.
Malik and Mohammad Aamir played a pivotal role in the home side’s win over Sri Lanka.
Malik hit 51 off 24 balls. He smashed five fours and two sixes in his inning. Aamir, who was playing his very first match in Pakistan, took 4 wickets off 13 runs.
Umar Amin, who was the replacement of out-of-form Ahmed Shahzad, also played his due part today as he scored an impressive inning of 45 off 37 balls, in his inning three boundaries were scored along with a six on a strike rate of 121.62 runs.
Aamir picked the first wicket of the second inning as EMDY Munaweera was dismissed on the second ball of his first over. The next to be dismissed was wicket-keeper batsman Samarawickrama, who was shown exit door by the umpires after he gave an easy catch to Babar Azam on the bowl of Imad Wasim.
Hafeez took the catch of Gunathilaka on his bowl when he was on nine runs.
ML Udawatte (11), MD Shanaka (54) were dismissed by all rounder, Faheem Ashraf.
PC de Silva, S Prasanna and SS Pathirana were also dismissed by Aamir after playing innings of 21, 16, 14 respectively.
Fast bowler Hasan Ali took the wicket of Skipper LTC Perera.
Earlier, Spinners Sachith Pathirana and Isuru Udana provided a much-needed break to their team as openers Fakhar Zaman, Umar Amin fell prey to their deliveries after playing respective fiery knocks.
Zaman departed after playing a pacy 31-run inning, he was beautifully bold by Pathirana as the batsman failed to middle the spin bowl. Along with opener Umar Amin, he provided a quick start to the hosts against Srilanka.
Sri Lanka won the toss and opted to field first.
Lahore’s Gaddafi Stadium witnessed the return of top-flight cricket after a drought of eight years, as Pakistan and Sri Lanka face off the final T20I tonight.
The stadium hosted its sixth international T20 game tonight.
Skipper Sarfraz Ahmed confirmed that Umar Amin and Muhammad Aamir will play today – replacing Ahmad Shahzad and Usman Khan Shinwari respectively.
Pakistan already led the T20I series 2-0, after beating Sri Lanka by seven wickets in the opening game and winning a last-ball thriller in the second T20I. Today’s match, however, was much more than just a game of cricket.
The occasion marked the homecoming of top-level international cricket as Sri Lanka became the first major cricket team to visit Pakistan since they were targeted in a deadly ambush in 2009 — with attack survivors among those returning to the scene.
Tens of thousands of security personnel were deployed in Lahore for the occasion. They are guarding routes to the stadium, and air surveillance and intelligence monitoring is also in place as Pakistan rolls out head-of-state level measures.
Although some Sri Lankan players and officials, including their head coach, opted out of the T20 fixture, Asanka Gurusinha and Hashan Tillakaratne, who came under gunfire in 2009 and are now Sri Lanka´s team manager and batting coach, will be with the squad as it is shuttled in and out of Gaddafi Stadium under heavy guard.
Pakistan’s Ahsan Raza, a reserve umpire in 2009 who was among those shot, will also be on the field.
PCB chairman Najam Sethi has hailed the match as a “historic moment”, pointing out that a generation of fans in the cricket-mad country have grown up without seeing any international games in their home stadiums.
Injury doubts loom over young bowling sensation Usman Khan Shinwari, who is suffering from a side strain which has made his inclusion in today’s playing XI doubtful, sources close to the matter said.
Fellow pacer Mohammad Amir, who has recovered from a shin injury he picked during the Test series against Sri Lanka, is likely to fill in for Shinwari.
Current members of the Pakistan squad, along with former greats, politicians and fans extended a warm welcome to the Sri Lankan team, which reached Lahore from UAE overnight.
Veteran all-rounder Mohammad Hafeez took to Twitter to express his excitement for the historic match.
Shoaib Malik couldn’t hold back his excitement for the match.
Prior to tonight’s game, Lahore successfully hosted this year´s Pakistan Super League final and the Independence Cup series between Pakistan and World XI last month.
Pakistan: Sarfraz Ahmed (c & wk), Fakhar Zaman, Ahmed Shehzad, Babar Azam, Shoaib Malik, Mohammad Hafeez, Imad Wasim, Shadab Khan, Mohammad Nawaz, Faheem Ashraf, Hasan Ali, Aamer Yamin, Mohammad Amir, Rumman Raees, Usman Shinwari, Umar Amin