Record-breaking Hasan Ali restricts Sri Lanka to 208

Sri Lanka’s familiar woes continued as their batsmen failed to turn up yet again, in the crucial third One-Day International in Abu Dhabi on Wednesday (October 18). Even though skipper Upul Tharanga delivered for the second successive time, the others failed to provide support as Sri Lanka were bowled out for 208 with Hasan Ali finishing with a five-wicket haul for the third time in his young career. Hasan’s impressive figures in 2017 reached a new high as the pacer broke legendary pacer Waqar Younis’s record for the fewest innings taken by a Pakistani pacer to reach 50 ODI wickets.
Initially, Tharanga continued from where he had left the other night, and that ensured his side started off in fine fashion. Even though Niroshan Dickwella struggled for timing at the other end, Tharanga struck boundaries at regular intervals in the powerplay as the run rate went a shade above six after the first six overs. Tharanga looked equally good on the backfoot with his punches as on the frontfoot with his trademark drives. He brought up the 50-run stand with an elegant drive off Mohammad Hafeez wide of the mid-off fielder and that forced Sarfraz Ahmed to finally introduce Hasan into the attack.
Dickwella, who finally executed the ramp shot to perfection was out two balls later as Hasan lived up to his billing by breaking through the left-hander’s defence. Dinesh Chandimal then opened his account with a flick through square leg that fetched four runs but he went into a shell soon after. The runs had clearly dried up with Hasan and Fahim Ashraf keeping things tight. Post Dickwella’s dismissal, Sri Lanka scored only 24 in the next eight overs.
With Chandimal failing to rotate strike at the other end, the onus was once again on the skipper to keep the scorecard ticking. He brought up his 35th ODI half-century with a single down to long off but with Chandimal looking edgy, the pressure kept mounting. Shadab Khan in particular, proved to be difficult for Chandimal to handle as the legspinner continued to outfox him with googlies. After surviving a review once, Chandimal eventually succumbed to Shadab’s googly. With only 102 runs coming in the first half of the innings, Sri Lanka promoted Chamara Kapugedera in hopes of upping the ante.
Kapugedera did show intent with a firm sweep off Hafeez but the visitors were handed a huge blow when Shadab got rid of Tharanga with a poor delivery. Even though it pitched short on leg, the skipper could only manage a top edge, leaving his side in tatters. Pakistan seized on the opportunity and with both Hasan and Junaid Khan finding some reverse swing, things only got tougher for Sri Lanka to handle. Kapugedera, Milinda Siriwardana and Jeffrey Vandersay perished in back to back overs to leave their side reeling at 141 for 6.
With 14 overs still remaining in the innings, Sri Lanka’s hopes heavily rested on the two men out in the middle. Lahiru Thirimanne and Thisara Perera have contrasting styles but their side needed both to hang in until the end. Sarfraz persisted with Hafeez well past the 40th over with two left-handers out in the middle, and the move paid dividends too. Thirimanne, unluckily inside-edged one onto his boot and the ball bounced up to be caught by Sarfraz. Soon after, Hasan got one to move away from Akila Dananjaya to find the outside edge as Sri Lanka slipped to the danger of not crossing the 200-run mark.
The wicket also helped Hasan break Waqar’s record and become the third fastest overall in terms of innings to reach the landmark of 50 wickets in the format. Perera then managed to fetch 14 runs in the space of four deliveries off Rumman Raees to ease Sri Lanka past 200 but Hasan returned to complete his five-fer at the opposite end. Perera’s bad judgement then cost his wicket with 10 balls left in the innings and Pakistan returned to the pavilion as the happier unit. Chasing 209 in such conditions could prove to be tricky but the hosts will fancy themselves to wrap up the series in the third game itself.
Brief scores: Sri Lanka 208 in 48.2 overs (Upul Tharanga 61, Thisara Perera 38; Hasan Ali 5-34, Shadab Khan 2-37) vs Pakistan.

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