It isn't new for Pakistan to throw away matches from position of superiority but since it was the first match of a fresh tour after good couple of months of rest, visitors were expected to stay hungry but they couldn't, letting Sri Lankans off the hook and ending up with a big loss..
The scoresSri Lanka 132/7 in 20 overs.
Pakistan 95 allout in 17.4 overs.
Full scorecard : 1st T20, 1 June 2012.
With coin landing in their favour, Sri Lankans elected to bat and started to lose wickets to some reckless shots. Tanvir opened the bowling attack against Jayawardene and Dilshan. Anyone would have shaky nerves seeing these two start and Umar Gul showed just that with a mis-field. Tanvir though held his own and just 2 balls later, managed to get Jayawardene out with a brilliant ball, and the ace opener sent it high in the air towards Shoaib Malik who made the catch look easy. Sangakkara came on next.
The pressure on Umar Gul was still showing as he gave away 8 runs in the next over. Tanvir, still high on his wicket in the first over had not lost even a bit of concentration and got Dilshan’s wicket, who hit it straight to Gul, the only fielder on the deep leg side.
Sri Lanka were on the back foot after just 3 overs when Sangakkara slammed three consecutive fours, and gained his team some momentum. But just when he seemed like he was settling into his element, a rampant Tanvir bowled a beauty of a delivery. Sangakkara got it on the inside edge and the ball went straight to the stumps.
Pakistan were in the driving seat again, this time playing cautiously. They were restricting the Lankans to under 6 runs an over and finally got another breakthrough when Chandimal was bowled out by Mohammed Sami. Sri Lanka were now down to 39 for 4.
Pakistan took it one step further by mixing their bowlers and bringing in Afridi and Hafeez respectively. One would have thought that if this Lankan form persisted, the hosts of this year’s World Twenty20 would be in a lot of trouble.
Ajmal came out next, taking two quick wickets and helping in a run out. Sri Lanka were reduced to 91 for 7 with 3 overs remaining.
But then, in a shocking turn of events, Perera and Kulasekara stood up to the challenge of getting a decent score on the table and got a staggering 41 runs in the last 18 balls, taking their team to a modest 132 for 7.
It looked like an easy enough score for the Pakistanis but boy, were they in for a surprise.
Kulasekara gave his team a dream start by getting two big wickets in the first 2 balls, just missing out on a hat-trick. Malinga on the other hand, was not in the best of shape and gave some runs away in his over.
Angelo Matthews struck next in the fourth over, taking Khalid Latif’s wicket with a clean edge, caught by Sangakkara. He would go on to give just 8 more runs and get another wicket in his next 3 overs.
Kulasekara’s form somehow suddenly depleted and he gave away 5 wides with one rubbish ball that went way down leg side. Thissara and Lokuarachchi both did the same mistake and proved costly. Sri Lanka gave away 14 runs in the form of wides with 3 balls. It looked like the pressure was getting to the bowlers.
Pakistan on the other hand, were slowly climbing up to 46 for 3 when Shoaib Malik fell to Matthews, brilliantly caught by Perera, who continued to have an excellent game.
Malinga took Umar Akmal down next and Shahid ‘BOOM BOOM’ Afridi came to the crease. Just the sight of this man would have sent chills down any bowler’s spine. But an unlikely Senanayake bowled an excellent ball to a charging Afridi who tried to slog it across the line but fell short and was caught by Lokuarachchi. Pakistan were down to 70 for 6 with 7 overs remaining. It still looked like a possible win for Pakistan. But that was pretty much the end of the line for the men in green who fell in quick succession and were all out for 95, Malinga, Senanayake and Perera cleaning up the tail order. Sri Lanka had won it in style.
All in all, a very exciting match between two good teams. But it was a day for the Lankans and their bowlers who played the pivotal role in this match. Thissara Perera took the man of the match award for his on-time, untimely knock and his bowling.
Fact : Shakeel Ansar, the wicket keeper, became the second oldest debutant for Pakistan in T20 cricket, at the age of 33 years and 202 days, only behind Inzamam-ul-Haq who made T20 debut at 36 years and 178 days. Inzi didn't play any more T20s after that!