Hyderabad, The Gulf Observer: Mohammad Rizwan and Abdullah Shafique hit centuries as Pakistan defeated Sri Lanka by six wickets in a record Cricket World Cup run chase.
Pakistan chased down a target of 345 in 48.2 overs on Tuesday, with Rizwan scoring an undefeated 131 and Shafique making 113 to better the previous successful chase of 328 set by Ireland when they stunned England at the 2011 World Cup.
Earlier, Kusal Mendis smashed the fastest century for Sri Lanka in a World Cup match on his way to 122 while Sadeera Samarawickrama hit an 89-ball 108.
Pakistan stretched its Cricket World Cup record against Sri Lanka to 8-0 and now has four points from two victories after beating both the qualifiers – the Netherlands and Sri Lanka – going into the marquee game against archrivals India in Ahmedabad on Saturday.
Sri Lanka have had plenty of bowling problems at the World Cup, and also lost their opening game against South Africa, who scored 428 runs against the Sri Lankans.
The hundreds from Shafique and Rizwan, who hit eight fours and three sixes, overshadowed Mendis’s 77-ball 122 and Samarawickrama’s 108 – maiden ODI hundreds that pushed Sri Lanka’s total to 344-9 on a day when bowlers got walloped from both sides on a perfect batting pitch.
Mendis and Samarawickrama showed plenty of aggression in the middle overs with a 111-run third-wicket stand off 69 balls.
Mendis capitalised on two early dropped catches inside the powerplay when first off-colour Shaheen Afridi (1-66) could not hold onto a sharp return catch and Imam-ul-Haq dropped a sharp chance at point.
Mendis hit 14 fours and six sixes, including a flicked six over mid-wicket against Pakistan’s best bowler of the day – Hasan Ali (4-71) – that brought up his century off 65 balls.
Samarawickrama took charge after Mendis holed out to a well-judged catch by Imam at mid-wicket fence. Pakistan pulled back in the final 10 overs despite Samarawickrama raising his century with Haris Rauf (2-64) picking up both his wickets in the final over.
Pakistan had a sluggish start to the chase when Dilshan Madushanka got the key wickets in the powerplay as Imam pulled to fine leg and captain Babar Azam (10) edged a leg-side flick to the wicketkeeper.
Shafique and Rizwan then began Pakistan’s second-highest-ever run chase in an ODI as Sri Lankan bowlers like Matheesha Pathirana sprayed plenty of wayward deliveries with slingy action to end up with 1-90.
“It’s always a proud memory when you perform for your country,” Rizwan said as he spoke to the media after claiming his player of the match trophy.
“It was difficult because when you chase like that it’s always special. When we went to the dressing room every player believed we were going to chase that. This is a team game and we decided to go with a deep partnership.”
Sri Lanka’s captain, Dasun Shanaka, tried to remain positive about the performance – especially by his two centurions.
“I’m really happy about the way both of the guys played, but we should have finished a bit stronger than this,” he said.
“We have to look at the areas we bowled and the number of extras. The only way is to encourage [them]. We had our chances in the field but missed a lot today.”