Shahid Afridi hit a brilliant unbeaten 39 off 20 balls with three sixes and two boundaries to steer Pakistan to an easy three-wicket win over Sri Lanka in the first Twenty20 at the Dubai International Cricket Stadium on Wednesday night.
Chasing a target of 146, Pakistan coasted home with five balls to spare with Afridi hitting a six off the first ball of the final over bowled by Kulasekera.
Pakistan took a 1-0 lead in the two-match series with the second match taking place at the same venue on Friday.
After Shehzad fell to a brilliant catch by Thirimanne at extra cover, Sharjeel Khan (34) and skipper Hafeez (32) added 57 runs for the second wicket to put Pakistan on course to victory.
Pakistan suffered a minor wobble in the middle order losing three wickets for seven runs and slumped to 96-5 at the beginning of the 15th over.
Afridi steadied the innings thereafter pacing his innings beautifully with a man-of-the-match performance to steer Pakistan home.
"Pakistan won and I'm very happy for that. I have to mention Mohammad Hafeez, who was not feeling well but still he played for the country. We had good support from the crowd. The bowling was good, but I want to be more consistent in my batting," said Afridi at the presentation after receiving several awards for his match-winning performance.
Malinga claimed three for 26.
"The boys really showed character, and we were looking for a good start, so the boys got that for us. In this game Shahid Afridi was brilliant," said Pakistan skipper Hafeez.
Sri Lanka captain Chandimal said they had to pick up the pieces and learn from the mistakes.
Afridi paddle sweeps Kulasekera from outside off for a six over midwicket as Pakistan win by three wickets with five balls to spare.
Pakistan need six from the last over to be bowled by Kulasekera with Afridi on strike.
Thisara holds onto a skier from Bhatti who is undone by a slower delivery from Malinga. Pak 139-7 in 18.4 overs.
Bilawal Bhatti c NLTC Perera b Malinga 10 (8b 1x4 0x6)
Bhatti and Afridi get a boundary apiece as Thisara strays in line. Pak 133-6 in 18 overs need 12 off 12 balls.
Pakistan are 121-6 in 17 overs needing 25 from 18 balls.
Malinga bowls a perfect slow yorker to trap Maqsood leg before. Pak 117-6 in 16.1 overs.
Sohaib Maqsood lbw b Malinga 13 (9b 1x4 1x6)
Afridi clobbers a couple sixes off Kulasekera, including a towering hit over long-on and extra cover. Pak 117-5 in 16 overs.
Afridi gets a streaky boundary jabbing Malinga to third man. Pak 103-5 in 15 overs.
Malinga strikes on his return with Amin driving straight to Chandimal at silly mid-off. Pak 96-5 in 14.1 overs.
Umar Amin c Chandimal b Malinga 8 (9b 1x4 0x6)
Maqsood steps up the ante clobbering Mendis over midwicket for a six. Pak 96-4 in 14 overs.
Thisara strays down the leg side an Amin glances him to the fine leg fence. Pak 87-4 in 13 overs.
Maqsood unfazed smacks Mendis through the covers for a boundary to open his account. Pak 80-4 in 12 overs.
Sri Lanka get a lucky break as Akmal is run out at the non-striker's end by Mendis following through on Maqsood's shot which hit the stumps. Pak 76-4 in 11.4 overs.
Umar Akmal run out 5 (3b 1x4 0x6)
Double blow for Pakistan as Hafeez is adjudged leg before off Mendis. Pak 76-3 in 11.3 overs.
Mohammad Hafeez lbw b Mendis 32 (27b 2x4 1x6)
Akmal opens his account by smashing Thisara straight back for a boundary. Pak 74-2 in 11 overs.
Thisara strikes with his third delivery as Sharjeel holes out in the deep with Dilshan taking the catch on the second attempt. Pak 69-2 in 10.3 overs.
Sharjeel Khan c Dilshan b Thisara Perera 34 (31b 3x4 0x6)
Pakistan need 79 from 60 balls.
Mathews goes for 17 in the 10th over as Hafeez hammers a boundary and six off consecutive balls. Pak 67-1.
Pakistan are going along nicely with Sharjeel having got into his stride lofting Mendis to the long-on fence. Pak 36-1 in 6 overs
Sharjeel gets another boundary with a classic lofted drive over the bowler Kulasekera. Pak 26-1 in 4 overs.
Spinner Senanayake strikes with his second delivery as Thirimanne at extra cover takes a stunning catch diving like a football goal keeper to dismiss Shehzad. Pak 12-1 in 2.2 overs.
Ahmed Shehzad c Thirimanne b Senanayake 4 (9b 0x4 0x6)
Sharjeel hits the first boundary of the innings via an inside edge past the keeper off a free hit delivery from Malinga. Pak 9-0 in 1 over.
SRI LANKA INNINGS
Sri Lanka lifted by a half century from Angelo Mathews (50) made 145-5 after being put into bat.
After a slow but steady start, Mathews stepped up the tempo during a 68-run stand for the fifth wicket with Thirimanne who remained unbeaten on a 16-ball 23.
Mathews slammed five boundaries and a six during his 34-ball half century while Thirimanne hit a boundary and a six.
Tanvir and Ajmal claimed two wickets apiece.
Mathews reaches his second T20 half century with a straight driven boundary off Tanvir but is out next ball with Sharjeel taking a good catch on the boundary. SL 142-5 in 19.2 overs.
Angelo Mathews c Sharjeel Khan b Sohail Tanvir 50 (34b 5x4 1x6)
Sri Lanka get 12 off the 19th with Thirimanne smashing Ajmal for a six. SL 138-4 in 19 overs.
Big over for Sri Lanka as Bhatti goes for 18 with Mathews hammering three boundaries and being dropped by Hafeez. SL 126-4 in 18 overs.
Thirimanne gets a boundary pulling a short one from Tanvir to square leg. SL 108-4 in 17 overs.
Mathews hits a much needed boundary sweeping Ajmal to the midwicket fence. SL 97-4 in 16 overs.
Mathews survives a confident appeal for leg before off Afridi. SL 89-4 in 15 overs.
Ajmal claims his 400th international wicket as Sangakkara lofts straght to Afridi at extra cover. SL 84-4 in 13.4 overs.
Kumar Sangakkara c Shahid Afridi b Saeed Ajmal 21 (22b 1x4 0x6)
Sri Lanka get the first boundary in 26 balls as Mathews steps out and smashes Hafeez over midwicket for a six. SL 82-3 in 13 overs.
Sri Lanka are maintaining six runs an over despite boundaries having dried up. SL 72-3 in 12 overs.
Afridi strikes in his second over as Chandimal plays inside the line to a drifter and is trapped leg before. SL 59-3 in 9.1 overs.
Dinesh Chandimal lbw b Shahid Afridi 22 (22b 3x4 0x6)
Sangakkara sweeps Afridi to fine leg for a boundary to bring up the 50 of the innings. SL 52-2 in 8 overs.
Ajmal strikes trapping Kusal leg before after Chandimal had hit him for a couple of boundaries. SL 41-2 in 6 overs.
Kusal Perera lbw b Saeed Ajmal 15 (16b 0x4 1x6)
Bhatti bowls a good opening over conceding just two runs. SL 30-1 in 5 overs.
Kusal hits the first six of the match smashing Tanvir over midwicket. SL 28-1 in 4 overs.
Chandimal finally gets some bat flicking Usman to backward square leg for his first boundary. SL 18-1 in 3 overs.
Chandimal has come in at one-drop ahead of Sangakkara while debutant Usman Khan comes into the attack.
Tanvir draws first blood with Shehzad at point taking a brilliant catch as Dilshan steers uppishly to the fielder. SL 9-1 in 2 overs.
TM Dilshan c Ahmed Shehzad b Sohail Tanvir 7 (8b 1x4 0x6)
Dilshan hits the first boundary of the match cracking Tanvir through the offside field.
Hafeez opens the attack with spin while Dilshan and Kusal Perera take strike.
Pakistan have won the toss and put Sri Lanka into bat in the first Twenty20 international at the Dubai International Cricket Stadium on Wednesday.
This is the first of two matches which open Sri Lanka's bilateral series against Pakistan.
Pakistan: Ahmed Shehzad, Sharjeel Khan, Mohammad Hafeez, Sohaib Maqsood, Umar Amin, Umar Akmal, Shahid Afridi, Bilawal Bhatti, Sohail Tanvir, Saeed Ajmal, Usman Khan
Sri Lanka: TM Dilshan, Kusal Janith Perera, Kumar Sangakkara, Dinesh Chandimal, Angelo Mathews, Lahiru Thirimanne, Thisara Perera, Nuwan Kulasekara, Sachithra Senanayake, Lasith Malinga, Ajantha Mendis