With the shackles gone and the pressure off, Malaysia swung away for a consolation 22-run win over Vanuatu in the fifth and final Twenty20 International at the Kinrara Oval on Friday.
Vanuatu still won the series 3-2 but Malaysia were able to register their highest total of 206 for five in a T20I match as Syed Aziz Syed Mubarak missed out on his first T20 hundred after scoring 87 runs.
The 206 runs exceeded the 186 scored against Maldives in June in a T20I Tri-Series and the highest since the 2017 Sea Games when Malaysia belted 214 runs against Myanmar as Anwar Arudin scored 115.
Malaysia then quelled a ferocious start by Vanuatu, who were restricted to 184 for nine as Pavandeep Singh captured three wickets and Syazrul Ezat Idrus two.
Another batting reshuffle saw Ainool Hafizs Yatim promoted to open with Syed Aziz in a 48-run stand dominated by the latter, who faced 50 balls and hit four sixes and seven fours before falling to Zechariah Shem.
Man-of-the-match Syed Aziz also featured in a 53-run partnership with Ariff Jamaludeen, who scored 29 off 17 balls, for the second wicket while captain Virandeep Singh weighed in with 35 off 26.
But it was left to Sharvin Muniandy to take the score past 200 when he smashed a six and two fours off just five deliveries by Patric Matautaava to finish with an unbeaten 17.
Vanuatu began their response in furious fashion as they raced to 88 off seven overs despite opener Andrew Mansale being bowled by Pavandeep for a golden duck.
Matautaava led the way by reaching 50 off just 18 balls as Vanuatu reached a run-rate of 12 at one point. Matautaava, who scored a hundred in the second T20I, plundered 15 runs, including two fours and a six off Wafiq Irfan Zabani in the second over. The Vanuatu batsman then smashed two sixes and a four off Pavandeep for a further 16 runs before reaching fifty with two fours and a six off Wafiq.
After Syazrul stemmed the flow of runs, it was Fitri Sham’s turn to be punished in the sixth over by Joshua Rasu, who hit three fours and a six for 19 runs.
But after Pavandeep ended a second-wicket stand of 103 between Matautaava, whose seven four and five sixes from 29 balls yielded 66 runs, and Rasu, Vanuatu began to lose steam. Syazrul captured the wicket of Rasu for 43 before Pavandeep took back-to-back wickets in the 17th over to finish with three for 32.
Malaysia 206-5 (Syed Aziz 87, Virandeep Singh 35, Ariff Jamaludeen 29, Sharvin Muniandy 17 not out, Nalin Nipiko 1-31)
Vanuatu 184-9 (Patric Matautaava 66, Joshua Rasu 43, Ronald Tari 28, Pavandeep 3-32, Syazrul Ezat 2-31)
Result: Malaysia won by 22 runs