Brilliant Babar stars again for Pakistan before Shinwari sees off Sri Lanka

By Sports Desk September 30, 2019

Babar Azam and Usman Shinwari starred as Pakistan eventually saw off a Sri Lanka fightback to secure a 67-run victory in the second ODI in Karachi.

After rain wiped out the series opener last Friday, conditions were far more conducive for play on Monday, with Pakistan posting 305-7 thanks mainly to a century from the brilliant Babar.

Sri Lanka quickly slipped to 28-5 in reply as Shinwari (5-51) struck three times, only for a record stand between Shehan Jayasuriya and Dasun Shanaka to keep the tourists' hopes alive.

However, having added 177 - the highest sixth-wicket stand for Sri Lanka in one-day cricket - both well-set batsmen were dismissed with the score on 205 following a second delay due to floodlight issues at the National Stadium.

Jayasuriya fell four short of a first ODI ton when he edged through to wicketkeeper Sarfraz Ahmed off the bowling of left-arm paceman Shinwari, who went on to complete a second five-wicket haul in the format.

Shanaka, meanwhile, holed out in the deep on 68 when trying to deposit a short ball from Shadab Khan (2-76) two balls later, with the tourists losing their last five wickets for 33 runs to be bowled out for 238 in 46.5 overs.

While made to wait a little longer than expected after the early clatter of wickets, Pakistan were able to celebrate a first one-day win at the venue for more than a decade.

Unlike their opponents, their top order had prospered. Fakhar Zaman made 54 from 65 balls, including sharing in a first-wicket stand worth 73 with Imam-ul-Haq (31), before Babar and Haris Sohail (40) put on 111 for the third wicket.

Having reached his 11th ODI hundred from just 97 deliveries, Babar eventually fell for 115 having hit eight fours and four sixes, the right-hander miscuing a shot to square leg.

Iftikhar Ahmed – playing in his first one-dayer since November 2015 – added a quickfire unbeaten 32 from 20 balls to help push the final total beyond 300, a score that was beyond Sri Lanka despite the best efforts of Jayasuriya and Shanaka.

The two teams complete the 50-over series at the same venue on Wednesday before shifting to Lahore for three Twenty20 games.

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    The Pakistan head coach said: "As far as Steve Smith goes, there's a blind spot for every top batsman in the world; as a bowler you're always interested in pitching the ball there.

    "It's important that we bowl with consistency there. Our bowlers are executing the plans very well right now, and hopefully we'll be able to build that kind of a pressure and stay disciplined, especially early in the innings.

    "No matter how good a batsman is batting, it's about consistency and bowling the maximum balls in those areas that build pressure and the batsman respects you, and you force him to make a mistake.

    "All the batsmen you talk to, any batsman in the world, that's the area where you have to defend a ball, and that is a six-to-eight-metre spot where you have to play the top of off stump.

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    "It's about consistency, and top players in the world, if you miss those areas, that special length and line, then they are good enough to just cash in on that.

    "You have to be very, very disciplined, just keep the ball there, and if it's happening you are already in the game."

    The former Pakistan captain added:  "The kind of form he is in, there's no doubt Steve Smith is a batting genius. We will try our best to execute our plans and dismiss him."

     

    Key Opta facts

    - Pakistan have lost their last two multi-game bilateral Test series, they have not lost more consecutive series in the format since losing all three they competed in across 2007.

    - Pat Cummins' tally of 87 Test wickets is more than any other bowler has taken since the start of 2018.

    -  Australia are undefeated in their last 30 Tests at the Gabba - winning 23 of those matches. Their last defeat at the Brisbane venue was against West Indies in 1988.

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