HAMBANTOTA: Buoyed by a massive opening partnership of 164 off 152 balls between Kusal Perera and Tillakaratne Dilshan Sri Lanka came up with their best batting performance of the series to beat Pakistan by a thumping margin of 165 runs and earn a consolation victory in the fifth and final match played at the Mahinda Rajapaksa Stadium in Sooriyawewa.
Perera cracked a career best 116 off 109 balls inclusive of nine fours and four sixes and Dilshan made 62 off 70 balls passing 10,000 ODI runs in the process as Sri Lanka winning the toss and batting first rattled up 368-4, their highest total against Pakistan.
Pakistan in reply were bowled out for 203 in the 38th over with no batsman scoring more than 37. Off-spinner Sachitra Senanayake playing his first match of the series was the pick of the bowlers finishing with figures of three for 39 off eight overs and one wondered whether Sri Lanka had missed a trick by not playing him in the earlier games.
Pakistan however won the series 3-2, their first in Sri Lanka since 2006.
The foundation laid by Perera and Dilshan was not wasted as skipper Angelo Mathews and Milinda Siriwardana provided an excellent finishing to the innings with an unbroken stand that produced 114 off 55 balls.
Mathews made 70 not out off 40 balls (8 fours, 2 sixes) and Siriwardana, a maiden ODI half-century in his fifth match which he reached with a six to remain unbeaten on 52 off 26 balls (4 fours, 3 sixes).
The Pakistan bowling which has been dominant throughout the series was taken to the cleaners as Sri Lanka finally found the right formula to hit their bowlers off their length.
Leg-spinner Yasir Shah who has been their nemesis throughout the Test and ODI series so far suffered the most going for 73 runs off eight overs that included three sixes and five fours in boundaries.
All the Pakistan bowlers other than off-spinner Shoaib Malik (who bowled an unchanged spell of 10 overs for 44 runs) suffered at the hands of the onslaught carried out by the Lankan batsmen.
Perera’s innings was well paced out and not the slam-bang type which he is usually renowned for. He took a few knocks on the way to his second ODI century getting hit on the grill of his helmet from Rahat Ali and taking a yorker on the toe from Mohammad Irfan. The way the two openers went about their business of getting runs the only way Pakistan could have got them out was through run outs.
Dilshan was out by a direct hit to the non-striker’s end after becoming the fourth Sri Lankan batsmen after Sanath Jayasuriya, Mahela Jayawardene and Kumar Sangakkara and the 11th overall to score 10,000 runs, and Perera was run out attempting a second run.
Sri Lanka’s two wins in the series was achieved on the back of contributions made by Perera. He scored a record equally half-century off 17 balls in the second ODI to carve out a two-wicket win for Sri Lanka at Pallekele and today his century was the determining factor.
Perera took the man of the match award and the man of the series award went to Mohammad Hafeez
K Perera run out 116
T Dilshan run out 62
L Thirimanne c Rizwan b Rahat 30
D Chandimal c Sarfraz b Rahat 29
A Mathews not out 70
M Siriwardana not out 52
Extras (lb-6, w-3) 9
Total (3 wickets, 50 overs) 368
Fall of wickets: 1-164 (Dilshan), 2-212 (K Perera), 3-219 (Thirimanne), 4-254 (Chandimal).
Did not bat: T Perera, A Priyanjan, S Senanayake, S Lakmal, L Gamage.
Bowling: Irfan 10-1-73-0 (w1), Anwar 9-0-71-0, Rahat 10-0-74-2 (w1), Imad 3-0-27-0 (w1), Malilk 10-0-44-0, Yasir 8-0-73-0,
Azhar Ali run out 35
Ahmed Shehzad st Chandimal b Senanayake 18
Mohammad Hafeez lbw b Mathews 37
Sarfraz Ahmed run out 27
Shoaib Malik c Thirimanne b T Perera 11
Mohammad Rizwan c Chandimal b T Perera 29
Imad Wasim c and b Senanayake 15
Anwar Ali c T Perera b Gamage 11
Yasir Ali c T Perera b Senanayake 9
Rahat Ali c Senanayake b Siriwardana 0
Mohammad Irfan not out 4
Extras (lb-1, nb-4, w-2) 7
Total (all out, 37.2 overs) 203
Fall of wickets: 1-51 (Shehzad), 2-71 (Azhar), 3-116 (Hafeez), 4-121 (Sarfraz), 5-140 (Malik), 6-170 (Imad), 7-178 (Rizwan), 8-197 (Yasir), 9-197 (Anwar), 10-203 (Rahat).
Bowling: Gamage 10-0-62-1 (nb4, w1), Lakmal 6-0-35-0 (w1), Senanayake 8-1-39-3, T Perera 8-0-38-2, Mathews 3-0-9-1, Siriwardana 2.2-0-19-1.