By Shashi Agarwal
Sri Lanka won the first match of the Asia Cup against Pakistan by 12 runs, a bit different than the expected result.The form with which Pakistan came into the tournament , after beating South Africa and Srilanka definetely suggested a different outcome of the match. Here is a close look at the match.
SriLanka won the toss and choosed to bat first and scored 296. It was perhaps a bit less considering the flatness of the wicket, but Pakistan was the opposition here. The good thing for SriLanka was that the batting display was led by a youngster,Thirimanne. Thirimanne scored 102 from 110 balls and laid the foundation.Finally Srilanka had something to cheer about their future, with lot of critics questioning their back up options after the retirement of so called Fab 3 of SriLanka.He was well supported by ever reliant, Kumar Sangakkara.His partnership with Thirimanne of 150 runs laid a foundation from where others could start the onslaught. But it was not to be and baring Matthews ,who chipped in with a half century , none could provide the momentum to the innings.Ultimately, they fell short of 300, which looked quite likely the way Sanga and Thirimanne were playing.
Pakistan’s bowling was not as bad as the results suggest.Junaid Khan bowled much better than what his figures suggest. His yorkers and slower ones at the end were class act.They should rethink of their strategy of opening with Hafeez , especially against a Subcontinental team which plays spin better. He is more a sort of containing batsman rather than a wicket taker.Doing this they are wasting the new ball, which someone like Junaid can use better.Ajmal was too good in the powerplays.Afridi too chipped in with 2 wickets. But with the Pakistan batting, one always knew that this target will be tough to acheive.
The top 4 of Pakistan’s batting order got starts but none of them could go on to make a big one. That is where Pakistan struggled here.Sharjeel got out playing a poor shot against Lakmal and the extra bounce got him while Shehzad got a gem of a delivery from deSilva.Misbah and Umar Akmal brought them on track and especilly Umar Akmal looked in good touch. It definetely reminded of his golden period, when he first came to the international scene and was supposed to the biggest young talent in world cricket then.He too fell playing a poor shot and Afridi justified his tag by getting out early.It was all left to Misbah , who could not take them home again, something he has been accused of by the former players.
SriLankan bowlers were not good to atart with but found themselves on the right side with Pak batsman falling to poor shots.Only after Misbah and Umar Akmal steadied the ship, SriLanka seemed to have lost their grip over the match. But someone saved his best for that and it was none other than Malinga. He cleaned up the lower order with his yorkers and slower ones and finished with figures of 5 for 52.He was named the “Man of the Match” for this performance.