Pakistan cruise to victory as Sri Lanka's white-ball woes continue
Pakistan maintained their run of ruthless white-ball performances against Sri Lanka, taking a 1-0 lead in the three-match Twenty20 series courtesy of a resounding seven-wicket victory on Thursday.
Sri Lanka were reeling from a 5-0 whitewash in the one-day international rubber and look set for more misery in the shortest form after being rolled out for 102 at the Sheikh Zayed Stadium.
Each of Pakistan's six bowlers claimed at least one wicket as Sri Lanka struggled badly with the bat, run-a-ball 23s from Sadeera Samarawickrama and Seekkuge Prasanna representing the most significant innings.
Hasan Ali continued his hot streak with a career-best 3-23 while Usman Khan (2-20) also impressed. Mohammad Hafeez then followed up his 2-10 with an unbeaten 25 alongside Shoaib Malik (42no off 31) to leave the visitors with much to ponder ahead of the second T20 at the same venue on Friday.
With the last match in the series set to be held in Lahore, a number of Sri Lanka regulars - including captain Upul Tharanga and Lasith Malinga - had opted out of the games due to safety concerns.
Already below full strength, the tone was set for the tourists' day when Dilshan Munaweera was cleaned up by Imad Wasim from the third ball of the match, and Pakistan kept a stranglehold throughout the innings.
Hafeez - still an eligible option despite his action being reported for a third time earlier this month - claimed two victims in the 12th over to leave Sri Lanka tottering ominously on 66-6.
Prasanna did crunch Hafeez for the first of his two maximums in the off-spinner's next set of six, but that was as good as it got as Hasan and Usman eviscerated the tail.
Sri Lanka claimed the early scalps of Fakhar Zaman and Babar Azam to give themselves a glimmer of hope, but the experience of Shoaib and Hafeez saw Pakistan through to another convincing victory.