It was Sri Lanka’s ninth straight defeat in ODIs and at the moment they look a team shipwrecked in the middle of the sea with no land in sight.
Babar Azam celebrates his second back to back century in the second ODI against Sri Lanka at the Sheikh Zayed Stadium in Abu Dhabi on Monday.
Skipper Upul Tharanga staged a late rally trying to pull things around for his team with a defiant century, but Sri Lanka had lost too many wickets at that stage to mount a challenge against the Pakistanis and they were bowled out for 187 in 48 overs.
Jeffrey Vandersay contributed an useful 22 off 55 balls helping his captain in a eighth wicket stand that realised 76 off 100 balls but once the partnership was broken it was all over for Sri Lanka.
Tharanga remained unbeaten on 112 scored off 144 balls (14 fours) to become the first Sri Lankan and the tenth batsman in ODIs to carry his bat throughout an innings.
The last time Tharanga made an ODI century 119 against South Africa at Cape Town in February Sri Lanka lost by 40 runs.
The Lankan bowlers especially Lahiru Gamage who took a career best 4 for 57 restricted the strong Pakistan batting line up to 219-9 despite another excellent century from the in-form Babar Azam on a slow pitch that batsmen found hard to get the ball off the square.
Sri Lanka needed to score at the rate of around four runs an over and what looked like an easy target soon became a much larger one when from a promising position of 70-2 they slumped dramatically to 93-7 to the leg-spin of Shadab Khan who picked up three wickets in that spell to break the back of the Lankan batting.
It was substandard batting by the Lankans who just don’t seem to have a batsman of class in their line up to dictate terms to the opposition.
As in the first ODI only one batsman from the top six made a half-century and on this occasion it was captain Upul Tharanga who rode his luck to score a fine century.
Tharanga could have been dismissed three times during that knock at 13 (dropped by Shadab at extra cover and by wicket-keeper Sarfraz Ahmed), 20 (dropped by Babar at slip) and 29 (caught behind). It was a rather rickety innings but in the circumstances a vital one for his side.
So bad was their batting that they failed to capitalise on some poor catching by the Pakistanis who dropped four catches overall.
Suranga Lakmal and Gamage rattled the Pakistan top order with some superb bowling on the slow track after Pakistan won the toss and chose to bat first.
Gamage once again impressed in his opening spell capturing two wickets 32 in 7 overs – Fakhar Zaman (11) and Mohammad Hafeez (8) while Lakmal was also equal to the task picking up the wicket of out of form Ahmed Shehzad for 8.
Pakistan were guilty of not rotating the strike regularly – a malady that was affecting Sri Lanka during the Indian series – with 40 dot balls being played out in the first 60 balls of power play.
Perera continued the good work of the opening bowlers by making a double strike off successive overs to send back the dangerous Shoaib Malik (11) and Sarfraz Ahmed (8) to have half the Pakistan side out for 79 at the end of the 20th over.
Babar Azam once more proved to Sri Lanka’s stumbling block. Following a horrendous run in the Test series against Sri Lanka where he managed only 39 runs in four innings Babar has fought himself back to form in the one-dayers starring in Pakistan’s 83 runs win with a match-winning century in the first ODI at Dubai and yesterday followed it up with another defining century – 101 off 133 balls (6 fours) that lifted Pakistan from a despairing 101-6 to 219-9 to give themselves with a fighting chance.
Babar anchored the innings but could not find a suitable partner until Shadab Khan arrived at the crease at the fall of the sixth wicket at 101. Shadab gave excellent support to Azam and was involved in a record seventh wicket stand that raised 109 off 136 balls. Shadab went onto remain unbeaten on 52 off 63 balls (1 four) – his maiden ODI fifty. Sri Lanka took three wickets in the final over with Gamage outstanding.
Both teams went into the match unchanged. The third ODI will take place at the same venue on October 18.