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Abu Dhabi, UAEWednesday 20 June 2018

Pakistan enjoy happy homecoming in Lahore with emphatic win over Sri Lanka in final T20

Shoaib Malik scored a rapid half century to set up Pakistan’s 36-run win over Sri Lanka at the Gaddafi Stadium

Seam bowler Hasan Ali, centre, is one of Pakistan's most promising stars at the moment. Aamir Qureshi / AFP
Seam bowler Hasan Ali, centre, is one of Pakistan's most promising stars at the moment. Aamir Qureshi / AFP

Pakistan enjoyed a happy homecoming thanks to a player who has played more international matches on home soil than the rest of the XI combined – and another who was playing there for the first time.

Shoaib Malik scored a rapid half century to set up Pakistan’s 36-run win over Sri Lanka at the Gaddafi Stadium in Lahore.

Mohammed Amir, who - despite a storied international career that is now into its eighth year - was playing in his home country for the first time, then took four-13 with the ball.

The win gave the home side a 3-0 series cleansweep over the understrength tourists, who had travelled to Pakistan for the first time in eight years without a variety of their most recognised players.

It was also Pakistan’s eighth successive win across the two limited-overs formats against Sri Lanka.

The platform for success was laid by Malik’s 24-ball innings of 51, which hoisted the home team to 180-3 from their 20 overs.

The 35-year-old former captain is one of only two players in the line up – the other being Mohammed Hafeez – who can remember the days of playing regular international matches in their homeland.

Malik, ironically, is now based in Dubai, where the team have been exiled to for much of the time since an attack on the Sri Lankan team bus in 2009.

Ninety-one of the 384 matches he has played for Pakistan have been on home soil. The rest of the side have played there just 67 times combined.

He was clearly happy to be home, in what appeared to be a carnival atmosphere at the Gaddafi Stadium, as he hit two sixes and four boundaries in his quick-fire effort.

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Faheem Ashraf continued his recent habit for eye-catching cameos. The all-rounder had become the first Pakistani to take a T20 internation hat-trick, in the series-clinching second match in Abu Dhabi, before everyone departed for Lahore.

This time around he hit the heights with the bat. Coming in with just two balls of the Pakistan innings scheduled, he hit 13 not out, clubbing the first he faced – a no-ball – for six, as well as the second.

The late impetus provided by Malik and Faheem carried over to Pakistan’s effort with the ball, as the visitors were soon 21-3.

Dasun Shanaka, perhaps surprisingly, provided resistance. Having scored two runs in his previous five T20 internationals, which included three ducks, he blazed a fine counter-attacking half century. His was the only effort of substance for Sri Lanka, though.

Amir, who has been both injured and out of form of late, returned to his best in fine style, as Sri Lanka fell well short.