Player of the Match
Player of the Match

Pakistan win scrappy contest off the last ball to sweep series

Bismah Maroof in action AFP/Getty Images

Pakistan Women 108 for 6 (Muneeba 25, Ranasinghe 3-18, Dilhari 2-28) beat Sri Lanka 107 for 8 (Athapaththu 37, Dar 1-1) by four wickets

It did come down to the final delivery, but the result was the same as in the two previous fixtures. Instead of cruising to victory, Pakistan earned it right at the death, sweeping the T20I series 3-0 over Sri Lanka.

In a low-scoring match, Sri Lanka found their innings derailed by an astonishing middle-order collapse where they lost seven wickets for 14 runs, with five of wickets in the innings falling to run outs. Pakistan, in the chase, let the game drift, and as Sri Lanka picked up regular wickets, the nerves began to fray. And with two runs needed off the final ball, it took a misfield from the bowler, Kavisha Dilhari, to allow them to complete the job.

Sri Lanka batted first after winning the toss yet again, but this time, the opening batters hung around. Chamari Athapaththu and Hasini Perera also appeared more proactive throughout the first half of the innings, sweeping often and sweeping well against the spinners. Pakistan had to shuffle their bowlers around frequently, turning to Tuba Hassan as early as the eighth over. But Sri Lanka kept turning the strike over, and finding regular boundaries.

It wasn't until the 12th over, when 69 runs had been put on, that a wicket finally came. It was courtesy a run-out, but it opened the floodgates. A dramatic passage of play saw Sri Lanka go from 69 for 0 to 83 for 7 inside 34 balls, gutting all the momentum that had been built. When Sugandika Kumari was run out off the innings' final ball, it was the fifth of the innings, and Sri Lanka had managed 107, pretty much exactly similar to the 105 and 102 they had scored in the first two games.

Pakistan, who made a few changes to their line-up, opened with Iram Javed, whose two boundaries off the first over suggested Pakistan were looking to make short work of this chase. But, after that, Sri Lanka's spinners ground the Pakistan batters down, and they retreated into their shells as the asking rate slowly crept up. Kumari removed Iram shortly after as she tried an ambitious lap shot, while Oshadi Ranasinghe, who starred with three wickets for 18 in her spell, began by getting rid of Omaima Sohail. Muneeba Ali, the other opener, batted on to score 25 off 33 balls.

Pakistan managed just 45 in their first ten, and from that point on, the visitors always had an edge. The ante was upped by Ayesha Naseem and Nida Dar, but neither could take their innings beyond a cameo, and so it always felt like unfinished business was left over.

It would come down to the last over, with eight required, and the game was now an ugly, scrappy contest with each side jostling for ascendancy. Until the final two deliveries, Dilhari had kept a lid on things, and with Bismah Maroof facing, Pakistan needed four in two balls. It came down to two off one, and just when the game appeared destined to be a tie, Sri Lanka lost their nerves. When a run-out looked imminent, Dilhari fumbled, and Pakistan completed their second run, triggering raucous celebrations.

Pakistan 2nd innings Partnerships

1st16Iram JavedMuneeba Ali
2nd15Omaima SohailMuneeba Ali
3rd19Aliya RiazMuneeba Ali
4th14Aliya RiazAyesha Naseem
5th10Nida DarAliya Riaz
6th17Bismah MaroofNida Dar
7th17Bismah MaroofKainat Imtiaz