Babar Azam © Getty Images
Babar Azam © Getty Images

Pakistan stretched the scoreline to 4-0, as they beat Sri Lanka by 7 wickets at Sharjah Cricket Association Stadium. Babar Azam would probably have scored his third century of the series had Sri Lanka registered at least a modest total on the scorecard. Nonetheless, his unbeaten 69 was as resolute as ever, taking his team over the line once again.

Shoaib Malik, too, had his share of fun on this track. One of his sixes was so gigantic that the cameraman refused to pan the lens at one point. The ball almost fell off the orbit. The veteran eventually scored his 41st fifty, adding over 100 runs with Babar Azam. He finished the proceedings with successive boundaries — the last one being a skier down town.

Sri Lankan bowled economically, as Pakistan did not want to make a mess of a paltry chase. However, the figures changed as and when the duo of Babar Azam and Shoaib Malik went bonkers and dealt in boundaries. On a track that had very little for the bowlers, Sri Lanka were never going to defend 174, especially with a dispirited attitude.

Winning the toss was the only thing that went Sri Lanka’s way. After choosing to bat first, they yet again squandered and slumped to 173 in 43.4 overs. Lahiru Thirimanne, the lone warrior, tried to save the sinking Sri Lankan ship, but Pakistan’s collective bowling effort ruined the visitors’ hopes of coming ashore safely.

Playing in his maiden ODI, Usman Khan made Upul Tharanga his first victim. The ball skidded through the captain’s defence before he could decode it, falling for a five-ball duck. Sri Lanka, too, fielded a debutant in the inconsequential match. But unlike Usman, Sadeera Samarawickrama had a forgettable outing. Slow left-arm Imad Wasim sent down a slider to have Sadeera’s defence knocked over.

Given he was running out of partners, Thirimanne rushed through the gears and reached his 20th half-century. Akila Dananjaya did well to play second fiddle, but Hasan Ali limited his stay to 18 runs. The fighting Thirimanne soon joined his fallen comrades in the pavilion, taking his team to 173 all-out.

Although Babar Azam and Shoaib Malik scored same amount of runs, the former was adjudged Player of the Match for setting the tone of the chase.

Brief scores:

Sri Lanka 173 in 43.4 overs (Lahiru Thirimanne 62; Hasan Ali 3 for 37) lost to Pakistan 177 for 3 in 39 overs (Babar Azam 69*, Shoaib Malik 69*; Seekkuge Prasanna 1 for 44) by 7 wickets.

Player of the Match: Babar Azam

Full scorecard