Sri Lanka square series to maintain top ranking

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Pakistan squandered the opportunity to dethrone Sri Lanka at the helm of the International Cricket Council's Twenty20 International rankings in Friday's series decider in Dubai.

Pakistan squandered the opportunity to dethrone Sri Lanka at the helm of the International Cricket Council's Twenty20 International rankings in Friday's series decider at the Dubai International Cricket Stadium in the United Arab Emirates.

Largely dominant and ultimately triumphant in Wednesday's first T20I, the chance to upstage the top-ranked opposition was lost. Instead, the talented Kusal Perera and spin duo Sachithra Senanayake and Seekkuge Prasanna turned the tables en route to a convincing 24-run victory.

Captain Mohammad Hafeez's decision to bowl first after winning the toss was the correct decision, as evening dew was always going to prove tricky for the defending spinners' various grips on the ball.

Perera's quickfire 84 and complementary cameos from former captains Tillakaratne Dilshan and Kumar Sangakkara, who weighed in with a cavalier 48 and unbeaten 44 respectively, however, pushed the Sri Lankans to a formidable final total of 211 for six.

Pakistan's reply was feeble, never enjoying the momentum required despite the inventive Sharjeel Khan's 50 from half as many deliveries at the top of the knock. Five wickets across a mere 13 deliveries, ostensibly, suggested a big win was on the cards for Sri Lanka as early as the 11th over of the chase.

Senanayake and Prasanna, meanwhile, completed telling figures of three for 27 and two for 45 respectively. Seamers Nuwan Kulasekara and Thisara Perera, too, cherished a key brace in competitive conditions.

All-rounders Shahid Afridi and Sohail Tanvir delayed the inevitable, swinging for the fences with entertaining results through the closing throes. Tanvir, during a record 63-run stand for the ninth wicket alongside tail-ender Saeed Ajmal, welcomed a consolatory, career-best vigil of 41 – five fours and a six included.

187 all out in 19.2 overs, regardless, was entirely insufficient. The hard-hitting Perera was named Man of the Match for a fine innings that spanned a mere 59 deliveries – and featured a quintet of fours and a quartet of sixes.

The Pakistanis and Sri Lankans will commence a five-ODI series, the first of which will get underway at the Sharjah Cricket Stadium on Wednesday. Three Tests will follow.

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