Pakistan vs Sri Lanka: Sarfaraz Ahmed matches MS Dhoni's feat

Pakistan vs Sri Lanka: Sarfaraz Ahmed matches MS Dhoni’s feat

In the third ODI, Sarfaraz scored 23 runs and took one catch.

NOTTINGHAM, ENGLAND – MAY 31: Sarfaraz Ahmed of Pakistan (Photo by Nathan Stirk/Getty Images)

The third ODI between Pakistan and Sri Lanka at the National Stadium in Karachi was a cliff-hanger. But, in the end, Pakistan held its nerves to clinch a thrilling five-wicket win, taking the 3-match ODI series by a margin of 2-0. It was a historic win for the Men in Green and an equally historic occasion for Sarfaraz Ahmed. The Pakistani skipper became only the second wicket-keeper to lead his side in 50 ODIs; a feat only achieved previously by MS Dhoni.

While Dhoni captained India in 200 ODIs, winning 110 of them, Sarfaraz has won 27 out of the 50 matches while leading Pakistan. It was a high-scoring game at the National Stadium. And, Sri Lanka needed someone to put a solid platform at the top especially after what had happened in the first game where Usman Shinwari wrecked through their top-order. Enter Danushka Gunathilaka.

The 28-year-old left-handed batsmen took the Pakistani attack by the scruff of its neck, scoring a calm-headed 134-ball 133; an innings which included 16 boundaries and one six.  Gunathilaka was ably supported by wicket-keeper Minod Bhanuka [36]. One of the main architects of the visitors’ revival in the last game, Dasun Shanaka, scored a riveting 24-ball 43 to push the total close to 300 [297-9] after 50 overs.

Abid Ali and Haris Sohail cap off a memorable win for the hosts

That Pakistan is an abysmal chasing side is not an aberration. No matter the era or the players, chasing totals down has always been their arch-nemesis. So, when Sri Lanka smoked their bowlers to rack up the massive score, not many would’ve given them a chance to pull off a victory. But Abid Ali and Fakhar Zaman had different ideas, especially the former.

The right-hander, who was making his return to the side after the World Cup snub, got Pakistan to a swashbuckling start. While Fakhar Zaman, as usual, took his time to get himself in, Ali unleashed his fury on the Lankan bowlers from the start. The right-hander scored a 67-ball 74- an innings which included seven boundaries and 1 six. He stitched a 123-run-stand with Zaman [76] to give his side a brilliant platform to cash-in.

Following the dismissal of the duo, Pakistan suffered a bit of a wobble with Babar Azam [31] and skipper Sarfaraz Ahmed [23] failing to step-up the gas in the middle-overs. But, it was that man again. Haris Sohail once again came to the fore for his side, scoring a calculated 50-ball 56 and along with Iftikhar Ahmed [28* off 22 balls] took Pakistan to only their second 275+ successful run-chase in the last five years.

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