Sports News from Sri Lanka: Babar Azam struck an imperious first century on home soil to lead Pakistan to an imposing total, before Usman Shinwari and company had Sri Lanka five down inside 11 overs, to essentially seal a comfortable victory. Sri Lanka fought in patches, most notably through the record sixth-wicket stand worth 177 between Shehan Jayasuriya and Dasun Shanaka. But they lost too much ground in the rest of the match for even that partnership to mean anything. Chasing 306, they were all out for 238 in the 47th over.
Shinwari finished with figures of 5 for 51, with Mohammad Amir and Wahab Riaz delivering cheap overs while taking a wicket apiece themselves. It was Babar’s 115 off 105 balls, though, that had set the game up for Pakistan – his 111-run partnership with Haris Sohail forming the centrepiece of their innings.
It was the 11th century of Babar’s ODI career, his third against Sri Lanka, and third of his last 11 innings, with four half-centuries and two scores of over 40 having been hit through that period as well. That he’s a blinding limited-overs talent has been known for some years now, but in the last few months, Babar has suggested he is coming into a new, more-consistent period in his career. During the course of this innings, he crossed 1000 runs for this calendar year, in which he averages 62.41 after 19 innings.
And on a flat surface, his batting always seemed effortless. Babar thumped his eleventh ball past mid-on to collect his first boundary, before launching Wanindu Hasaranga over the midwicket boundary next over. His striking would become more and more regal as the innings wore on, and in between the singles and twos would be effortlessly collected.