Mohammad Hafeez anchors Pakistan to series win
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Mohammad Hafeez led Pakistan to a robust eight-wicket victory over Sri Lanka by smashing a third century of the series in the fourth one-day international on Wednesday, giving his side an unbeatable 3-1 lead in the series.
Hafeez hit an unbeaten 113 off 119 balls with 12 fours and two sixes and equaled Zaheer Abbas' Pakistan record of three centuries in a bilateral ODI series as Pakistan raced to 226-2 in 41.1 overs.
Offspinner Saeed Ajmal (4-39) and fast bowler Umar Gul's 3-37 had earlier helped bowl out Sri Lanka for 225 in 48.5 overs despite debutant Ashan Priyanjan (74) and Kumar Sangakkara (51) hitting half centuries.
Hafeez has a chance to go one better than Abbas' record made against India in 1982 in the last match of the series on Friday.
"It's a great honor to equal the record of one of the great batsmen of Pakistan,'' Hafeez said.
"There was time where I was under pressure, but thanks to the supporters and the team for supporting me. It was something very special for the team to win this series and we want to finish the last match on a high.''
Hafeez was under tremendous pressure after performing poorly against South Africa in the last six ODIs prior to the series against Sri Lanka. He appears to have turned his form around with a superb 122 and career-best unbeaten 140 in the first and third ODIs at Sharjah before another scintillating knock on Wednesday.
Sri Lanka needed early wickets to defend a below-par total, but Hafeez added 84 runs with Ahmed Shehzad (44) for the second wicket before getting Pakistan home with an unbeaten 111-run partnership with Sohaib Maqsood (46 not out).
"Hafeez is having an unforgettable series in the way he is playing and finishing games for us,'' Pakistan captain Misbah-ul-Haq said. ``We also need to keep our players going, but the main thing is that you really want to win every game, and we will try to do that.''