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Azhar Ali

By Sa’adi Thawfeeq

Pakistan captain Azhar Ali said that they had plans to stop Kusal Perera from cutting loose as he had done at Pallekele and that was one of the key factors that contributed toward their 135-run win over Sri Lanka in the third ODI played at the R Premadasa Stadium on Sunday.

Sri Lanka faced with the challenging task of chasing 317 for victory folded up tamely for 181 to trail the five-match series 1-2.

Perera who set the pace at Pallekele with a blistering knock of 68 off 25 balls made only 20 off 18 before Pakistan dismissed him.

“These kinds of players you must have plans, you have to be careful against them. If they take off they can really change the game,” said Azhar.

“We were careful how Sri Lanka went about in the first 10 overs. We didn’t want to leak the runs the way we did in Pallekele, the bowlers did a very good job to stick to their plans their execution was very good, that’s why we got two good wickets Dilshan and Perera and it really helped us win.

“Anwar Ali really bowled well, he got a new job today to bowl with the new ball and he delivered.”

Anwar picked up the wickets of both openers to ensure Sri Lanka did not get off to a flyer as they did at Pallekele where they chased down 287.

“The great thing about that game was we took a lot of positives from it especially when we were behind the game and we came back and everyone showed the courage to fight back still wanting to do well,” said Azhar.

“Everyone who comes in plays with their hearts out and wants to win the game for his team. If the players have that attitude then the team is going in the right direction.”

Azhar admitted that the toss played a vital role in the end result.

“Tosses are not always in our control but it is always good to win it. It was a very good pitch to bat on, all the batsmen adapted to the conditions and played really well. Overall it was a very good batting performance from us.”

Praising the efforts of his leg-spinner Yasir Shah, Azhar said, “The best thing about him is he doesn’t give bad balls. As a leg spinner if you bowl consistent lines you always perform well even though you don’t get wickets like in the first two ODIs,” said Azhar.

“If he is bowling well his best performance will be round the corner and he showed it here with four wickets. If he keeps hitting the right areas he will be a great asset to Pakistan.”