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Sri Lanka remain top of the tree

Sri Lanka defended top spot in the Twenty20 international rankings as a commanding 211 for three set up a 24-run win over Pakistan and a shared series in Dubai.

After Kusal Perera's 84 helped to post the highest T20I total versus Pakistan and Sri Lanka’s third-best format score, victory appeared a formality when the hosts were reduced to 85 for seven in the 11th over of their reply.

Yet Pakistan refused to go quietly and produced a fine end to their innings, with Sohail Tanvir and Saeed Ajmal combining for a 63-run ninth-wicket partnership to bring the target within touching distance.

However, they had left themselves too much do and Ajmal's demise in the final over spelled the end of their hopes as Sri Lanka levelled the two-match series.

Put in to bat, Sri Lanka’s total was underpinned by a fine effort by opener Perera, who hit five fours and four sixes as he batted until the innings’ last ball when he was run out attempting a second.

Tillakaratne Dilshan contributed 48 to a first-wicket stand of 100 before he fell reverse-sweeping Ajmal. Seekkuge Prasanna enjoyed a lively cameo, smashing two maximums and two fours off eight balls until falling for 21 via a leading edge off Ajmal. Kumar Sangakkara was similarly ruthless as he raced to 44 not out.

Pakistan's reply began badly when Ahmed Shehzad went for eight, but fellow opener Sharjeel Khan did better, amassing eight boundaries - three of them sixes - as he raced to 50 before being bowled by Prasanna.

That left the score 83 for four - Mohammad Hafeez and Sohaib Maqsood having failed to fire - but it soon got worse with Umar Akmal, Umar Amin and Bilawal Bhatti all departing for ducks, the latter two to Sachithra Senanayake during two balls, in quick succession to reduce Pakistan to 85 for seven.

Shahid Afridi steadied the ship with 28 prior to Tanvir and Ajmal mounting their spirited late fightback, with 41 and 20 respectively, but Sri Lanka had enough in reserve to wrap up the win.