Babaz Azam registered another nonchalant knock in pressure situation © Getty Images
Babaz Azam registered another nonchalant knock in pressure situation © Getty Images

Sri Lanka‘s much-improved bowling performance restricted Pakistan to 219 for 9 in the second ODI of the five-match series. However, they still had no answers to Babar Azam who helped himself to two back-to-back centuries (overall seventh of his career) to take Pakistan to a modest score.

Opting to bat, Pakistan were off to a poor start. Lahiru Gamage again provided Sri Lanka with an early breakthrough. Fakhar Zaman was caught at slip for 11. Ahmed Shehzad continued to get trolled on social media when he departed for 8 off 17 balls. Mohammad Hafeez, Shoaib Malik and skipper Sarfraz Ahmed fell to soft dismissals and consistent bowling from Sri Lankan pacers. They extracted enough from a flat surface at Abu Dhabi.

At 79 for 5, Pakistan were in all sorts of trouble. Nonetheless, Babar continued to stay afloat. He was composed despite losing partners at the other end. Babar found company from Shadab Khan for the seventh wicket. He trusted Shadab, and the latter repaid him by not throwing his wicket away. The duo added 109 runs.

Babar got to his hundred in the penultimate over. It was a calculative innings, filled with ground strokes. He struck 6 fours; thereby playing the situation with strike rotation. He has given his bowlers a decent platform to come hard against an under-fire batting line-up. Following his departure, Shadab also got to his maiden fifty and remained unbeaten on 52.

Suranga Lakmal and Gamage’s early wickets had set the tone for Sri Lanka. Lakmal demolished the tail to finish with 4 for 42. Thisara Perera accounted for 2 for 34 as well. Sri Lanka would be content with their effort on a decent batting surface. Upul Tharanga and co. have spoken about their inconsistent batting performances since the past few months. They would be itching to get going and chase down the total to put an end to their 8-match winless streak by leveling the series at Abu Dhabi.

Brief scores:

Pakistan 219 for 9 in 50 overs (Babar Azam 101, Shadab Khan 52*; Suranga Lakmal 4 for 42, Thisara Perera 2 for 34) vs Sri Lanka.