SL vs PAK: Perera powers Sri Lanka to 7-wicket victory
DAMBULLA, Sri Lanka: All-rounder Thisara Perera led Sri Lanka to a seven-wicket victory on the Duckworth/Lewis Method against Pakistan in the series-deciding third and final one-day international on Saturday.
Perera grabbed 4-34 and tore through Pakistan's batting lineup with lively short pitched deliveries to restrict the visitors to 102 in 32.1 overs — Pakistan's second lowest ever ODI total against Sri Lanka.
Sri Lanka's target was revised to 101 after rain intervened in between a flurry of Pakistan wickets and the match was cut to 48 overs a side.
The home team raced to 104-3 in 18.2 overs with Tillakaratne Dilshan scoring an unbeaten 50 off 55 balls, raising his half century by hitting the winning boundary.
"The bowlers set the tone, Dhammika and Malinga early and then Thisara," said Sri Lanka captain Angelo Mathews.
"The pitch was doing a little bit in the early hours and then it flattened out a little bit, but when you're chasing 100 you should play positive cricket and not block."
Perera, who scored a blazing half century and also took three wickets in Sri Lanka's series leveling 77-run victory last Tuesday, was again instrumental in restricting Pakistan to a low total.
Fawad Alam top scored with an unbeaten 38 but wickets continued to tumble at regular intervals which negated Pakistan captain Misbah-ul-Haq's decision to bat first after winning the toss.
"The wicket had a bit spongy bounce ... if you scored 240 or 250 that would have been useful," Misbah said.
"But we lost too many early wickets and could not recover."
Perera tested the visitors' susceptibility against short deliveries by dismissing Umar Akmal, Sohaib Maqsood, Wahab Riaz and Saeed Ajmal cheaply before taking a brilliant running catch in the deep to dismiss Shahid Afridi.
The inclusion of Dhammika Prasad for the first time in the series provided Sri Lanka a perfect start as the medium fast bowler got success in only the third over when he found the thick edge of Sharjeel Khan for zero.
Lasith Malinga then trapped Mohammad Hafeez leg before wicket and Ahmed Shehzad played a rash pull and offered a simple catch at mid-on which reduced Pakistan to 14-3.
Misbah's lean batting form continued as he prodded to 18 off 30 balls before being run out by a direct throw from Dilshan.
Pakistan's middle-order was then tormented by Perera as Malinga ran from mid-on, dived and hung onto mistimed pull by Akmal to give Perera his 100th wicket in his 79th ODI, while Maqsood gloved another Perera short delivery to Kumar Sangakkara down the leg-side.
Pakistan had just passed its previous lowest total of 75 against Sri Lanka at Lahore five years ago when Afridi holed out in the deep before rain briefly disrupted the match.
Alam labored on with the tailenders and managed to scrape Pakistan past the 100-run mark before Malinga yorked Mohammad Irfan to end the innings.
Dilshan and Upul Tharanga (14) started the run-chase aggressively by combining in better than run-a-ball 46-run opening stand.
Tharanga then played onto his off stump from tall fast bowler Mohammad Irfan's delivery and Kumar Sangakkara edged to Mohammad Hafeez before Mahela Jayawardene (26) departed with the scores tied.
Shahid Afridi, who disappointed after finishing wicketless in the series, was smashed through point by Dilshan for his ninth boundary to raise Sri Lanka's 2-1 victory in the series.
Pakistan's batsmen struggled throughout the month long tour during which Sri Lanka also whitewashed them 2-0 in the test series.