Pakistan keep on churning talented, fearless youngsters who continue to contribute handsomely to limited-overs wins. It was the turn of Faheem Ashraf and Shadab Khan to come to the fore on Friday (October 27) as they helped Pakistan snatch a two-wicket win over Sri Lanka in the second Twenty20 International at the Sheikh Zayed Stadium and take a winning 2-0 lead in the three-match series.
Driven by a hat-trick, Ashraf derailed the Sri Lankan innings with 3 for 16 in his three overs, thus becoming the first Pakistani to record a hat-trick in T20I cricket. With 13 needed from the last six balls, Shadab, 18, then hit the fourth ball of the last over from Vikum Sanjaya straight over the bowler’s head for a mammoth six and took a brace off the next ball to seal the win in 19.5 overs.
Shadab remained unbeaten on an eight-ball 16 with a six and a four as Pakistan completed a nervy series victory. Shadab said he was used to off finishing matches.
“I have done it a few times in first-class cricket and one-day matches,” said Shadab. “I was just thinking about trying to win the match. I went for the six in the last over, and by God’s grace, it carried over the fence. In T20s, you have to have variations with the ball. So that’s what I’ve been working on and it came off.”
That renders the final match in Lahore on Sunday inconsequential from the series perspective, but its significance remains as Sri Lanka return to Pakistan more than eight years after their team bus was attacked in the same city in 2009.
As Ashraf, the medium pacer, became only the sixth bowler to register a T20I hat-trick, he spoiled Sri Lanka’s chances of posting a challenging total. The visitors lost their last eight wickets for just 18 runs off 20 balls after being well placed at 106 for 1 in 16.1 overs, and finished on 124 for 9 when they ran out of overs.
Sri Lanka did their best to defend another low total and had Pakistan in a spot of bother at 55 for 4 when Thisara Perera, the captain, dismissed Shoaib Malik for nine, one of his three wickets.
Sarfraz Ahmed with 28 and Mohammad Hafeez with 14 took Pakistan close to victory but Isuru Udana gave away just four runs in the 19th over to set up an exciting finish. But Shadab and Hasan Ali did the needful to deny Sri Lanka a memorable win.
Earlier, the Sri Lankan batsmen showed positive intent right from the start, pushing for singles and hitting the occasional boundaries. That helped them start on a confident note as Danushka Gunathilaka (48-ball 51 with four four and a six) and Dilshan Munaweera put on 43 for the opening wicket.
It was finally an attempt at a sharp single that broke the opening stand, Imad Wasim scoring a direct hit to find Munaweera short of the crease.
Sadeera Samarawickrama (31-ball 33) added 63 for the second wicket with Gunathilaka but then the Sri Lankan innings imploded with three run-outs. Sadeera, Seekkuge Prasanna and Perera were all run out, after which Ashraf dismissed Isuru Udana (6), Mahela Udawatte and Dasun Shanaka off successive deliveries. This is only the second time a team has taken eight wickets in the last four overs in a T20I. Pakistan did likewise against Australia in the 2010 World Twenty20 in the Caribbean.