Naseem, bowlers take Pakistan to series win against Sri Lanka

Naseem, bowlers take Pakistan to series win against Sri Lanka

By seven wickets, Pakistan Women 104 for 3 (Naseem 45*, Maroof 22*, Kulasuriya 1-11) defeated Sri Lanka Women 102 for 6 (Perera 35, Hassan 1-13).

Pakistan overcame an early batting wobble to cruise to a seven-wicket victory over Sri Lanka, clinching the series with a game to spare. Sri Lanka won the toss and batted first in a game that felt almost identical to the first, only to be limited to 102 by the hosts’ tight, disciplined bowling performance. Pakistan’s chase began cautiously, as it had in the first game, with the team losing three early wickets. After that, however, a classy partnership between Ayesha Naseem and Bismah Maroof took control of the proceedings, their unbeaten stand yielding 70 runs off 58 balls, and a game that appeared to be bogged down was finished quickly.

As in the first game, Sri Lanka lacked intent early on, and Pakistan dominated the powerplay. Only 14 runs were scored in the first five overs, and Anam Amin again dismissed Chamari Athapaththu. Soon after, Nida Dar dismissed Oshadi Ranasinghe, leaving Sri Lanka to try to regroup while trailing the asking rate.

Tuba Hassan, who took out Sri Lanka’s top scorer Hasini Perera in the previous match, was the pick of the bowlers once more, allowing only 13 runs in four overs. The Sri Lankan batting began to crumble as Pakistan’s bowlers contributed a wicket. The visitors stumbled to 102 in an uninspiring first inning.

Pakistan lost Gull Feroza early, thanks to a sensational diving catch by Nilakshi De Silva, and for a brief moment, it appeared that Sri Lanka would mount a spirited defence of a low total. Then, however, Muneeba Ali, who couldn’t quite find her timing, fell trying to sweep Inoka Ranaweera to fine leg. Soon after, the ferocious Iram Javed got a leading edge on Ranasinghe, leaving Pakistan at 34 for 3. The asking rate had also begun to flirt with a run per ball, putting significant pressure on Maroof and Naseem, two new batters.

They, too, started cautiously, knowing that going deep would only benefit the hosts. Once they had their eye in, the pair appeared to have established clear roles for themselves, with Maroof taking a back seat while Naseem led the attack to Sri Lanka. Pakistan began to click into gear after the 15th over, with Naseem hitting a stunning back-foot six to set the tone for what was to come. Sloppiness crept into the Sri Lankans’ game, with five careless overthrow runs bringing Pakistan within ten runs of victory.

Naseem sealed the victory with an aerial slap off Ranasinghe that landed just inside the rope as she finished with an unbeaten 45 off 31 balls, with the final 28 runs coming off only ten balls. As a result, Pakistan has a chance to complete a clean sweep when the teams meet again for the final T20 on Saturday.

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