Itching for a victory after their shock loss to Afghanistan yesterday, Pakistan put on a strong performance to beat the Sri Lankans by 6 wickets and win the bronze medal of the Asian Games Men's Cricket Tournament at Guangzhou, China.
Pakistan won the toss and put Sri Lanka into bat. The latter got off to a decent start courtesy useful and fluent innings from their openers - Jeevantha Kulatunga, who top-scored with 31 and Nuwan Zoyza, who made 24. The Lankas crossed the 50-run mark before losing their first wicket.
But what followed was a bit of a collapse with the the rest of the top order and the middle batsmen failing to come up with forceful and substantial innings. The sole exception was Dilshan Munaweera, who scored 28 in an innings studded with two fours and a six. The Lankans were bowled out for a modest 135 in 19.5 over with a generous 15 runs coming via extras from Pakistan. Raza Hassan was the pick of the bowlers with 2 wickets for 19 runs in his four overs.
Pakistan in reply, got off to a slightly wobbly start when opener Sharjeel Khan was out to Lankan paceman Isuru Udana for 4. Pakistan were looking shaky at 7/1. But the other opener Sheharyar Ghani steadies the innings and took the score forward briskly, before his partner Akbar-ur-Rehman was run out for 2, leaving the score at an iffy 57/2.
Ghani went shortly afterwards when he was caught behind for a pacy 30. Then, the middle order rose to the occasion with captain Khalid Latif smacking a 42-ball 53 in an innings punctuated by 2 fours and 4 sixes. He was ably supported by Bilawal Bhatti, who made a breezy 25. The two took Pakistan to victory, overhauling the total of 135 with two overs remaining.
Sri Lanka had their chances, but Pakistan was able to keep its nose in front to win the match fairly comfortably and earn a place on the medals' podium.