KARACHI: Pakistan needed a middle order counter-attack once again to cross the finish line against Sri Lanka in the second Twenty20 International and secure an unassailable 2-0 lead in the series here at the Southend Club.
After the top-order failed to give Pakistan a solid start in their chase of a 103-run target set by the visitors, it was Ayesha Amin who smashed an unbeaten 45 off 31 balls (five fours and a six) to help the home side register a seven-wicket win.
The 17-year-old came in at number five instead of veteran all-rounder Nida Dar, whose 36 off 21 balls proved to be key for the hosts in a similar situation in the first match. Pakistan skipper Bismah Maroof played an anchor role once again, adding 22 off 29 to the total.
Ayesha walked onto the crease when Pakistan were reeling at 34-3 in the eighth over following early departures of openers Gul Feroza (3) and Muneeba Ali (17) and Iram Javed (11).
After nearly three overs of negotiating cautiously with Sri Lankan bowlers Kavisha Dilhari and Inoka Ranaweera, Bismah smashed Ama Kanchana for Pakistan’s first boundary in 24 balls.
Ayesha pounced on the momentum set by her captain to hit two more boundaries in the next two overs. The duo kept their cool keeping in mind that the required score wasn’t a big one before Ayesha plundered Dilhari for a six and a four in the 16th.
The right-hander hit two more boundaries in the next two overs to take Pakistan home with 17 balls to spare.
“Plan was to play sensibly,” said Ayesha after the match. “I waited for the right ball to attack and play to my strengths, Bismah guided me well through in the middle.”
Bismah was impressed how it was two youngsters in Ayesha and leg-spinner Tuba Hasan — who bagged four wickets in the first T20 — played match-winning roles.
“Our performance was good, we are backing youngsters and they’re doing well,” said the Pakistan captain. “Tuba and Ayesha have done brilliantly in the first and second games respectively. I hope they continue doing so in the future.”
Tuba, despite taking just one wicket in the second match, conceded only 13 runs in her four-over spell. The other four Pakistan bowlers also got a wicket each with Sri Lanka making 102-5.
The pick of the Sri Lanka batters was opener Hasini Perera, who took 51 balls to score 35 runs. Nikasha de Silva, with 21 off 29 was the islanders’ second-best batter.
“We thought of getting 130, I got out early and our batters struggled,” said Sri Lanka skipper Chamari Athapaththu. “T20s are won by boundaries but we couldn’t, they did that well and rotated strike well too.”
The final T20, a dead rubber, will be played at the same venue on Saturday before the two teams compete in a three-match One-day International series which will be a part of the ICC Women’s Championship.
SRI LANKA 102-6 in 20 overs (Hasini Perera 35, Nilakshi de Silva 21; Tuba Hasan 1-13); PAKISTAN 104-3 in 17.1 overs (Ayesha Naseem 45 not out, Bismah Maroof 22 not out; Oshadi Ranasinghe 1-16).