Sri Lanka staged a remarkable comeback to register what was in the end a comfortable 37-run win over Pakistan in the first of two Twenty20s in Hambantota yesterday.
Reduced to 89 for seven in the 17th over, Thisara Perera and Nuwan Kulasekara added 43 off just 20 balls to help their side post a decent 132-run total. Perera made 32 off just 16 balls with fast-bowler Umar Gul being the casualty — his final two overs going for 31.
Sri Lanka bowlers then made a mockery of Pakistan’s revised batting order and the tourists were bundled out for 95 after being reduced to none for two off the opening two deliveries.
Mohammad Hafeez and Shakil Ansar were the two dismissed in identical fashion and the tourists never recovered. Ahmed Shehzad hit 36 and Umar Akmal contributed 12 but despite 19 extras, Pakistan fell short by a big margin.
Perera took the final wicket of Saeed Ajmal and to go with an outstanding catch to get rid of Shoaib Malik, the 23-year-old was fittingly named man of the match.
Lasith Malinga, Kulasekara and Angelo Mathews, who gave just eight runs in four overs, capped a good day with two wickets apiece.
“It was my first match since recovering from the injury so I feel really good,” said Perera. “I’ve been working hard on my fielding and I enjoyed the match today.”
Hafeez eyes comeback
Meanwhile, Hafeez, leading the side for the first time, was left disappointed but vowed a better show on Sunday.
“We had our moments but didn’t capitalise,” said the Pakistan captain. “Perera did really well for his team. We couldn’t put on a good show but we’ll come back hard in the next match. We don’t need to worry too much since it was just one game and we’ll look to do better in the next.”
His counterpart, who was seen arguing with the umpires after a catch was not awarded, was a pleased man.
“I thought I caught it [the catch],” said Jayawardene.
“But the umpires thought otherwise. Overall it was a great game and played in the right spirit.
“The pitch was pretty challenging and I thought 140-150 would be a good total. The pitch had something in it for both bowlers and batsmen.
“If we can just keep our consistency we can do well.”
The second and final match of the series will be played tomorrow at the same venue.
Published in The Express Tribune, June 2nd, 2012.
You can view a slideshow of pictures from the match here.
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