All-round Hafeez brings Pakistan series lead

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All-rounder Mohammad Hafeez struck an outstanding century and took two key wickets, as Pakistan sealed a comfortable 113-run victory – and two-one series lead – over Sri Lanka.

All-rounder Mohammad Hafeez struck an outstanding century and took two key wickets, as Pakistan sealed a comfortable 113-run victory – and two-one series lead – over Sri Lanka in the third ODI at the Sharjah Cricket Stadium.

Pakistan have built a formidable force on the back of Hafeez and opener Ahmed Shezad's outstanding stretch of form this month – and the trend continued on Sunday.

Hafeez welcomed a career-best 140 not out, which featured 11 boundaries and three sixes, spanning a mere 136 deliveries and surpassing the unbeaten 139 completed against Zimbabwe in Harare two years and three months ago.

Shehzad, meanwhile, graduated to a fine 81. 19 runs more, and the talented right-hander would have cherished consecutive centuries. An awkward run-out, though, ended that ambition.

The Sri Lankan attack struggled in rather flat conditions, with seamers Nuwan Kulasekara, Thisara Perera and Angelo Mathews proving expensive in the face of Hafeez and Shehzad's collective onslaught. Wicketkeeper-batsman Umar Akmal and captain Misbah-ul-Haq were later at hand to cap an impressive total of 326 for five with quickfire cameos.

The reply was limp and ultimately very insufficient. Former captain Tillakaratne Dilshan's commanding 59 was the highest in a final total of 213 all out in just 44.4 overs. As in the previous fixture, numerous specialist batsmen enjoyed solid starts but couldn't convert to innings of telling substance.

Seamer Umar Gul, who hadn't played international cricket since March due to a knee injury, enjoyed a promising comeback. The right-armer clinched figures of three for 19 in two deliveries less than six overs, proving the perfect foil to left-armer Junaid Khan.

Spin trio Hafeez, Shahid Afridi and Saeed Ajmal delivered on cue. The tenacious threesome removed five victims, with the dangerous Dinesh Chandimal and Mathews' departures particularly key.

The fourth ODI will get underway at the Sheikh Zayed Stadium in Abu Dhabi on Wednesday. The same venue will host the final fixture two days later. A three-Test series will follow.

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