sport

Sri Lanka square series

Pakistan squandered the opportunity to dethrone Sri Lanka at the top of the International Cricket Council's Twenty20 International rankings in Friday's series decider in Dubai, as Sri Lanka won by 24 runs.

After Wednesday's first T20I defeat, the talented Kusal Perera and spin duo Sachithra Senanayake and Seekkuge Prasanna turned the tables on Pakistan en route to a convincing victory.

Captain Mohammad Hafeez's decision to bowl first after winning the toss was the correct decision, as evening dew was always going to prove tricky for the defending spinners' various grips on the ball.

Perera's quickfire 84 and complementary cameos from former captains Tillakaratne Dilshan and Kumar Sangakkara, who weighed in with a cavalier 48 and unbeaten 44 respectively, however, pushed the Sri Lankans to a formidable final total of 211-6.

Feeble

Pakistan's reply was feeble, never enjoying the momentum required despite the inventive Sharjeel Khan's 50 from 25 balls at the top of the order. Five wickets across a mere 13 deliveries, ostensibly, suggested a big win was on the cards for Sri Lanka as early as the 11th over of the chase.

Senanayake and Prasanna, meanwhile, completed telling figures of 3-27 and 2-45 respectively. Seamers Nuwan Kulasekara and Thisara Perera, too, cherished a key brace in competitive conditions.

All-rounders Shahid Afridi and Sohail Tanvir delayed the inevitable, swinging for the fences with entertaining results through the closing throes. Tanvir, during a record 63-run stand for the ninth wicket alongside tail-ender Saeed Ajmal, welcomed a consolatory, career-best vigil of 41 - five fours and a six included.

187 all out in 19.2 overs, regardless, was entirely insufficient. The hard-hitting Perera was named Man of the Match for a fine innings that spanned a mere 59 deliveries - and featured a quintet of fours and a quartet of sixes.

The Pakistanis and Sri Lankans will commence a five-ODI series, the first of which will get underway at the Sharjah Cricket Stadium on Wednesday. Three Tests will follow.