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Pakistan clean sweep Lanka
By Mohammad Abdullah October 24, 2017
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Sharjah: Usman Khan Shinwari bowled a magical spell not only for his maiden five-wicket haul but also to help Pakistan set up a nine-wicket victory against a hapless Sri Lanka in the final dead rubber of the five-match series at the Sharjah Cricket Stadium on Monday.

After skittling Lanka out for a paltry 103, Pakistan raced to the target for the loss of just one wicket with 29.4 overs to spare.

Imam-ul-Haq remained unbeaten on 45 while Fakhar Zaman scored 48 runs before falling to Jeffery Vandersay.

Earlier, the left-arm quick heralded the advent of a new bowling sensation on the world stage with a captivating performance that saw Lanka losing five wickets for just 20 runs.

He wreaked a havoc as the Lanka batting line-up collapsed like a stack of cards against the varying and disciplined bowling of the left-armer.

Within the first hour of the game, Lanka were reduced to respectability restoration. And it was indeed their lower order that saved them from the ignominy of being bundled out under 100 runs.

Usman rattled the stumps of opener Sadeera Samarawickrama (0) to start the skid and followed it up with the important wicket of Dinesh Chandimal (0) off the next delivery. He got the ball to move away from Chandimal forcing him to play on it and the latter managed to nick a catch to the wicket-keeper Sarfraz Ahmed as Lanka were pushed on the back foot from the beginning.

On the third ball off his next over, he got rid of captain Upul Tharanag (8) with a quick delivery, beating the batsman with the pace for his third scalp. He also trapped Dickwella (0) in front of stumps by angling the ball into the batsman reducing Lanka to 8-4.

So devastating was Usman’s bowling that three of the four top-order batsmen failed to get off the mark. Milinda Siriwardana (6) holed out to Fakhar after a brief stint at the crease to hand Usman his fifth wicket of the match.

Thisara Perera played a cameo of 25 - highest scorer of the Lankan innings -- to delay the inevitable but could not stand the assault of fierce Pakistani bowling attack and was caught by Fahim Ashraf off Shadab Khan. Lahiru Thirimanne, who scored a fifty in the last match, waged the lone battle single-handedly with a fighting 19 runs but was picked by young Hasan Ali. He and Prasanna shared a 29-run stand for the sixth wicket - highest partnership of the innings - in a bid to revive the innings before falling prey to Ali There was a little resistance from the lower order as the last four wicket fetched more runs for the Islanders than the top four batsmen.

However, Lanka could barely manage to play a little more than half of their allotted overs to end up at 103 all out in 26.2 overs.

Shadab and Ali took two wickets each, conceding 24 and 19 runs respectively while Usman returned with a figure of 5-34 from his five overs. This was Lanka’s second consecutive whitewash by an Asian rival.

Earlier, they were beaten by India 5-0 in the preceding series on their home ground. Such kind of performances have raised some serious doubts over the future of the game in tiny Island nation, which had won the World Cup in 1996.

Sarfraz praises bowlers

Captains Sarfraz Ahmed credited superb wicket taking ability of Pakistan’s bowlers for the 5-0 drubbing of Lanka in the one-day series.

The win gave Pakistan their sixth 5-0 whitewash and ninth consecutive win since winning the Champions trophy in England in June this year.

A delighted Ahmed hailed his bowlers.

“I am very happy because when you give an opportunity to someone and he performs, its great,” said Ahmed of the 23-year-old Shinwari, playing only his second game.

“Usman had finished the match in the first five overs. We’re going from strength to strength, we have lots of options. I want our batting to perform more, if we score 270-280, our bowling is strong to defend that.”

Ahmed said his bowlers were at their best throughout the series.

“We did not have Amir due to injury but Shinwari filled that gap and throughout this series we did well with the ball and this is a great sign for us,” said Ahmed.

Pakistan have not allowed any of their opponents to cross 250 mark in the last nine matches, since conceding 319 to India in the Champions trophy group match at Edgbaston in June this year.

Right-arm pacer Hasan Ali has been in great form, taking 12 wickets in this five-match series which also saw him rise to world number one in ODI rankings.

Tharanga blames batsmen

Meanwhile, Sri Lankan skipper Tharanga also singled out Pakistan’s bowling as the difference and also blamed his batsmen for the poor show.

“Throughout the series we did not have answer to Pakistan’s bowling as they were outstanding,” said Tharanga whose team was restricted to totals of 209-8, 187, 208, 173 and 103.

He also said his batsmen could not perform up to the mark through out the series.

“Our batsmen let us down in the series. We’re not playing to our strengths, to our capability. We didn’t score 200 three times. Couldn’t handle the pressure, has no answers to Usman’s first spell.

“They were straight, always trying to get wickets.”

The two teams now play a three-match Twenty20 series, the first two in Abu Dhabi on Oct.26 and 27 while the last in Lahore on Oct.29.

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