(MENAFN- Khaleej Times) Pakistan with an all-round display thumped Sri Lanka by seven wickets in the first T20 match at Sheikh Zayed Cricket Stadium on Thursday.
Shoaib Malik with a composed innings of 42 guided Pakistan to victory after bowlers had bundled Sri Lanka out for 102 runs in 18.3 overs.
Pakistan chose to bowl after winning the toss. Skipper Sarfraz Ahmed opened with a spinner and Imad Wasim snared Dilshan Munaweera in only the third ball of the match.
Danushka Gunathilaka got the innings moving with few lusty boundaries. And Sadeera Samarawickrama welcomed pacer Usman Khan with a four. The Lankan pair looked settled but an in-form Usman had Gunathilaka (18) caught behind by Sarfraz to end a 28-run partnership.
Sri Lanka, though, had managed 50 runs by the eighth over. There was double bowling change enforced in spinner Shadab Khan and pacer Faheem Ashraf, and the latter got Samarawickrama (23) with a ripping delivery.
Shadab then had Ashan Priyanjan (12) caught as the batsman went for a reverse sweep only to find Shoaib Malik at third man. Mohammad Hafeez trapped Mahela Udawatte and Dasun Shanaka in an over. And Hasan Ali got among the wickets as he caught Sachith Pathirana.
Sri Lanka had slipped from 51 for three to 68 for seven wickets. And amid all this chaos, skipper Thisara Perera walked into the middle. He was off with a boundary and Seekkuge Prasanna struck a maximum to give Lankan fans a chance to wave their national flags.
If there was a flicker of hope with Perera in the middle, he top edged those for counterpart Sarfraz Ahmed to gobble. Hasan then dismissed Isuru Udana and Vikum Sanjaya to grab a career best three for 23 runs. Prasanna was unbeaten at run-a-ball 23 as Lanka were bundled out for 102 in 18.3 overs.
In reply, Pakistan lost Fakhar Zaman early with the score at 10.
Vikum Sanjaya, Dilshan Munaweera and Isuru Udana were tried in consecutive overs. And the introduction of jersey No. 10 Sachith Pathirana made things interesting. He troubled the batsmen with his flight and spin. Pathirana snared Babar Azam in his second over to make it two for 18 runs. Seekkuge Prasanna was the fourth bowling change in seven overs of play. However, an experienced head in Malik and Ahmed Shehzad restored normalcy by rotating strikes and picking odd boundaries. Bowlers were continuously rotated and Sanjaya had Shehzad (22) caught behind to end a fruitful with their 46-run partnership.
Shoaib and Mohammad Hafeez (25) then took Pakistan home with a vital 39-run partnership.
And for the first time in this series, a home ground felt like one.
A packed Sheikh Zayed Cricket Stadium reverberated with shrills of 'Pakistan Zindabad' (Long Live Pakistan).
The second T20 will be played at same venue on Friday.
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