Pakistan 103 for 3 (Malik 42*, Hafeez 25*) beat Sri Lanka 102 (Prasanna 23, Samarawickrama 23, Hasan Ali 3-23, Hafeez 2-10, Usman 2-20) by seven wickets
A number of factors go into picking a XI. A player's composure under pressure, for one, or their ability to bowl fast. But choosing a XI on the basis of their travel preferences, as this Sri Lanka team was chosen - is, even in this modern world, generally a risky tactic that is likely to backfire more often than not. That was emphatically the case in Abu Dhabi, where a full-strength Pakistan swept past a depleted Sri Lankan side by seven wickets with nearly three overs to spare.
The result felt like a foregone conclusion from very early on. Sri Lanka were clearly out of their depth and Pakistan's bowlers, good enough to discomfit the best teams in the world, were far too good for a visiting side that is still searching for a win in the limited-overs leg of the tour. Sri Lanka were bundled out for 102 - Hasan Ali the standout bowler with three wickets - and Pakistan strolled to the target as if it were a practice session against net bowlers.
Pakistan opted to bowl and Imad Wasim obliged by removing opener Dilshan Munaweera with his third delivery. But the visitors looked to attack nevertheless. It was a ploy that wouldn't last as Pakistan's fearsome bowling attack chipped away. Sri Lanka still persisted with risky, aggressive shots when rotating the strike in the middle overs could have served them better. That eventually pushed the run rate down under six.
The Sri Lankan side had an uncomfortably domestic feel to it; this, therefore, did not feel like a fair fight for the most part. Both spinners and fast bowlers filled their boots, with easy wickets on offer. Thisara Perera, strangely, pushed himself down the order, coming in at 68 for 7 when the game already looked as good as gone. He didn't last long either, though, top edging Usman Khan when he was on 6.
From there on, it was just the tailenders - not that the difference was always easy to tell. The last wicket fell in the 19th over, with Pakistan needing a straightforward 103 to take a series lead.
They lost Fakhar Zaman early but with such a low target, the pressure was never really on them. They were unperturbed about having scored just 21 runs for two wickets in the Powerplay. Shoaib Malik and Ahmed Shehzad simply rotated the strike and ease towards the target. Shehzad fell to a loose shot midway but it barely mattered at that point, Hafeez effortlessly taking his place.
After the demoralising ODI whitewash, Sri Lanka's full side would have struggled to compete with the hosts. But as Sarfraz Ahmed's men put the finishing touches on the most routine of wins, it was impossible not to feel Sri Lanka may face a similar fate in the shortest format.