Shoaib Malik remained unbeaten in a paltry chase    AFP
Shoaib Malik remained unbeaten in a paltry chase AFP

It took Pakistan 17.2 overs to go past the finish line in the series opener of the three T20Is against Sri Lanka at Abu Dhabi. Chasing 103, Pakistan lost early wickets but a paltry total was never going to challenge them. Shoaib Malik remained unbeaten on 42* whereas Ahmed Shehzad and Mohammad Hafeez supported him. Earlier, Pakistan wrecked havoc of an inexperienced batting line-up with Hasan Ali, Usman Khan and Hafeez shining with the ball. The second T20I will be held on Friday at the same ground.

In pursuit of 103, Fakhar Zaman and Babar Azam failed to contribute. While Zaman was cleaned up by Vikum Sanjaya, it was a rare failure from in-form batsman Azam. The right-hander was kept at bay since the first ball and he stepped out to be eventually stumped off Sachith Pathirana. Apart from the twin strikes, Sri Lanka were never in the game. Shehzad again failed to score at a brisk rate and perished for a 32-ball 22. The bulk of work was done by the experienced duo of Malik and Hafeez. Sanjaya chipped in with two scalps, but the damage was done long back for visitors.

Put into bat, Sri Lanka never got going. They lost Dilshan Munaweera on the second ball. Dimuth Gunathilaka and Sadeera Samarawickrama got starts but failed to capitalise. The middle order was exposed by Hafeez; bowling much slower in the air to deceive the batsmen. Hasan and Usman picked up from there to restrict the opponents for 102. Imad Wasim, Shadab Khan and Fahim Ashraf also chipped in with a wicket apiece.

With another drubbing, Sri Lanka continue to totter in the shorter formats, and will be low on confidence ahead of the penultimate tie.

Brief scores:

Sri Lanka 102 all-out in 18.3 overs (Dimuth Gunathilaka 18, Sadeera Samarawickrama 23, Seekkuge Prasanna 22*; Hasan Ali 3 for 23, Usman Khan 2 for 20, Mohammad Hafeez 2 for 10) lost to Pakistan 103 for 3 in 17.2 overs (Ahmed Shehzad 22, Shoaib Malik 42*, Mohammad Hafeez 25*; Vikum Sanjaya 2 for 20) by 7 wickets.