LAHORE    -    Sri Lanka made a tremendous comeback in the T20 series by defeating No 1 team Pakistan in the first T20 played here at the historical Gaddafi Stadium on Saturday.

Pakistan suffered a 64-run defeat in the first encounter of the three-match T20 series at the hands of the under-strength Sri Lankan team. The men in green, who were favorites to win the T20 series, failed to chase the target of 166 runs after deciding to bowl first. It was the visiting side’s first victory on the tour, which gave them 1-0 lead in the series. Earlier they lost the ODI series 2-0 in Karachi.

The hosts could not start their run-chase in a good manner as they kept on losing wickets on regular interval, while Sri Lanka bowlers Nuwan Pradeep and Isuru Udana bowled brilliantly as they claimed three top-order Pakistan batsmen to leave the hosts reeling early. Pradeep dismissed one of the top Pakistan batsmen Babar Azam and newly-inducted Umar Akmal off successive balls, while Udana shown Shehzad pavilion to provide Lanka an impressive start.

Although Sarfaraz Ahmed and Iftikhar Ahmed played sensibly and tried to save the sinking ship of Pakistan team, yet their dismissals in quick succession have dimmed the hosts’ hopes, which were on a high after the hat-trick of young sensation Mohammad Hasnain, who became the youngest ever Pakistan cricketer to pick a T20 hat-trick. From then on, it was a downward slide as one Pakistan player followed the other to the dressing room and the team threatened to get bowled out for less than a 100.

Earlier, 57-run knock of Danushka Gunathilaka powered Sri Lanka to 165/5 in the allotted 20 overs after being asked to bat first. Bhanuka Rajapaksa and Minod Bhanuka made their T20 debuts for Sri Lanka. While for Pakistan, Umar Akmal and Ahmed Shehzad though made comebacks yet they failed to deliver for the national team.

Sri Lanka raced to 84 with opener Gunathilaka scoring 57 off 38 balls including a six and eight boundaries and Avishka Fernando making 33 off 34. Fernando and Gunathilaka brought up the team 50 in just 29 balls. Debutant Bhanuka Rajapaksa scored 32 off 22 with two sixes and as many boundaries, while skipper Dasun Shanaka chipped in with 17 including two sixes.

Shadab Khan got the breakthrough as Gunathilaka departed for 57. But Rajapaksa and Fernando continued to hit boundaries at will until Shadab’s direct hit found Fernando short of the crease. Skipper Dasun Shanaka then hit a few lusty blows to keep hopes of a 180+ total alive for the Lankans. However, Hasnain had something else in store. At 19 years and 183 days old, became the youngest ever cricketer to take a hat-trick in T20Is. While playing against Sri Lanka on Saturday, Hasnain removed Bhanuka Rajapaksa (32), Dasun Shanaka (17) and Shehan Jayasuriya (2) off successive deliveries to achieve this feat.

Speaking at the post-match ceremony, man of the match Danushka Gunathilaka said: “It was a great win for the unit, and we did well in the one-dayers as well. Avishka batted well and it helped me a lot. When we go forward, we can win more games.”

Jubilant Sri Lankan captain Shanaka said: “It’s a great achievement for us without our top guns. Our openers were tremendous on this wicket. We had great belief in this team. All the credit need to go to the openers and debutant Banuka. The bowlers also started well.”