Ahmed Shehzad was belligerent in his 95 © AFP
Ahmed Shehzad was belligerent in his 95 © AFP (File Photo)

Ahmed Shehzad, the Pakistan opener, has played a blitzing yet controlled 95 to prove the bedrock of Pakistan’s chase of 257 for A 3-1 lead in the five-match One-Day International (ODI) series against Sri Lanka, in Colombo. His innings has featured fierce square drives and cuts, and extra-cover drives off fast bowlers, to help get his team to a quick start alongside captain and his opening partner Azhar Ali. He has so far struck 12 fours and a six, and has maintained a strike-rate of about 100 or more, throughout. When Azhar got out carelessly in the 12th over, he consolidated with the next man in, Hafeez, by milking singles for a while. LIVE UPDATES: Sri Lanka vs Pakistan, 4th ODI, Colombo

Hafeez started his innings slowly; at a point he had seven runs from 24 deliveries. Malinga had bowled two maidens in a row, and Angelo Mathews was bowling tightly as well. But that phase, which lasted four overs, passed, with a crisp off drive from Hafeez, and then two scorching clips through midwicket from Shehzad in the next, bowled by Suranga Lakmal. The two have passed a 100 runs in their partnership, and looked to be strolling to a comfortable, series-clinching, nine-wicket win. But Shehzad played a cut to third man in the 32nd over, and was caught impressively by Kusal Perera—positioned at third man—who dived forward to pouch the ball. LIVE SCORECARD: Sri Lanka vs Pakistan, 4th ODI, Colombo

However, with 67 needed off 113 at the fall of this wicket, Sri Lanka’s victory looks improbable. It had been a do or die game for the hosts, as they are already behind 2-1 in the series, with a total of five matches to be played. Sachith Pathirana, the left-arm spinner, has been punished the most, with six fours and two sixes, with the two batsmen coming down the track to collect their easy boundaries. Sri Lanka have leaked runs in all the matches in the series, with at least one bowler in the attack severely hit.

If Shehzad had completed his century, he would have got his seventh century in an ODI career of 69 matches. Meanwhile Hafeez has scored his 11th half-century, with a commanding display.

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