By Sa’adi Thawfeeq
Pakistan outplayed Sri Lanka with a thoroughly convincing all-round performance to win the first twenty20 international by 29 runs at the R Premadasa Stadium.
Sri Lanka, the reigning World T20 champs experimenting with a new look side following the retirements of Kumar Sangakkara and Mahela Jayawardene could muster only 146-7 chasing Pakistan’s total of 175-5.
After losing the wicket of Kusal Perera as early as the third ball of the innings for four, Sri Lanka’s innings never gained the momentum to overhaul Pakistan’s total.
They kept losing wickets regularly failing to come up with any substantial partnerships that could put pressure on the fielding side. The best stand they could manage was 37 off 21 balls between debutants Dhananjaya de Silva (31) and Milinda Siriwardana (35).
It seemed that Sri Lanka had missed a trick by sending hard hitting Chamara Kapugedera late down the order. He plundered 31 not out off 16 balls inclusive of three sixes, but by coming to bat at no. 7 he had hardly any opportunity to swing the game Sri Lanka’s way as they had fallen back far behind on the asking rate.
All the Pakistan bowlers sported excellent figures with left-armer Sohail Tanvir picking up the man of the match award with three wickets for 29.
In Pakistan’s innings three batsmen made identical scores of 46 – Ahmed Shehzad, Shoaib Malik and Umar Akmal.
Sri Lanka seemed to have the game under their control until the arrival of Akmal who joined Malik in a stand of 81 off 45 balls to give Pakistan a reasonable total for their bowlers to defend.
During his unbeaten knock Malik became the fourth Pakistani batsman to score 1000 runs in T20 internationals after Shahid Afridi, Mohammad Hafeez and Umar Akmal.
None would be sad by Sri Lanka’s loss than its skipper Lasith Malinga who once again bowled poorly conceding 46 runs off his four overs – figures that may have cost his side the match.
Sri Lanka handed out T20I debut caps to leg-spinner Jeffrey Vandersay, fast bowler Binura Fernando, and batsmen Dhananjaya de Silva and Siriwardana – all of whom made good contributions but not to the extent to bring victory to their side.
The second and final T20 international will be played at the same venue on Saturday.
Mukthar Ahmed c Vandersay b Mathews 2
Ahmed Shehzad c Malinga b T Perera 46
Mohammad Hafeez c Vithanage b T Perera 17
Shoaib Malik not out 46
Umar Akmal lbw b Malinga 46
Shahid Afridi b Fernando 8
Anwar Ali not out 0
Extras (lb-3, w-7) 10
Total (5 wickets, 20 overs) 175
Fall of wickets: 1-10, 2-52, 3-83, 4-164, 5-175.
Did not bat: Mohammad Rizwan, Imad Wasim, Sohail Tanvir, Mohammad Irfan.
Bowling: Fernando 4-0-38-1 (w3), Mathews 4-0-33-1 (w2), Malinga 4-0-46-1 (w2), Vandersay 4-0-25-0, T Perera 4-0-30-2.
K Perera c Afridi b Anwar 4
T Dilshan c Rizwan b Tanvir 6
D de Silva c Shehzad b Malik 31
K Vithanage b Tanvir 1
A Mathews b Imad 23
M Siriwardana c Anwar b Tanvir 35
C Kapugedera not out 31
T Perera c Rizwan b Anwar 2
B Fernando not out 8
Extras (b-1, lb-3, w-1) 5
Total (7 wickets, 20 overs) 146
Fall of wickets: 1-4, 2-13, 3-19, 4-55, 5-92, 6-116, 7-121.
Did not bat: J Vandersay, L Malinga.
Bowling: Anwar 4-0-27-2 (w1), Tanvir 4-0-29-3, Irfan 4-0-25-0, Afridi 4-0-31-0, Imad 3-0-21-1, Malik 1-0-9-1.