Chamara Kapugedera takes the aerial route during his knock of 31 not out off 16 balls in the first T20 international against Pakistan at the R Premadasa Stadium.

By Sa’adi Thawfeeq

Sri Lanka T20 captain Lasith Malinga has blamed it on himself for his team’s 29-run defeat at the hands of Pakistan in the first T20 international played at the R Premadasa Stadium on Thursday.

Malinga struggling to regain his bowling form conceded 46 runs off his four overs which was the most expensive by any bowler in the match.

Malinga’s poor bowling allowed Pakistan to run up a total of 175-5 batting first and then restrict Sri Lanka to 146-7.

“I didn’t bowl very well. I am an experienced bowler in T20 cricket but I didn’t do much for the team,” said Malinga making a self assessment of himself after the match.

“I am not really consistent. If I can consistently bowl the lengths that I want to bowl, I can manage my four overs. But at the moment I’m struggling with that.

“The others are all young bowlers and they’re all learning. I have to do better than that if we want to win the match,” he said.

Malinga said the target of 176 was gettable if not for Sri Lanka losing wickets in the early overs.

“If we lose the good players early any team will struggle. That’s why we’ve got seven batsmen. If two genuine experienced batsmen fail, any team will be in trouble. But it doesn’t matter. The younger players did well. I’m happy the newcomers did really well in this match,” said Malinga.

“We played really positive. Kapu (Chamara Kapugedera) and newcomer (Milinda) Siriwardene are playing really well. That’s the two positives and Jeffrey Vandersay bowled well in his first match. I’m very happy for the young guys because there’s a Sri Lankan future. Everyone is really happy with their performance.”

Malinga defended the move to send Kapugedera late down the order. The hard hitting right-hander raced to 31 off 16 balls but didn’t have enough overs to finish the match off.

“The main reason we brought Chamara to the side was to have him play at 6 or 7 and to hit those big shots off the last 8 or 10 balls. We had planned for our batsmen to bat for longer periods above him,” said Malinga.

“We had Angelo Mathews and Milinda Siriwardana who batted very well in the ODIs and in the domestic T20 league. He showed us that he deserves to bat higher, so we gave him that chance. He confirmed that today. “We also got what we hoped for from Chamara. He showed us how good a player he is. When we look at the batting list we have to figure out who is suitable where. What we wanted from Chamara were those finishing blows, and he did that.”