The UAE must have believed they could win their opening Asia Cup contest against Sri Lanka on Thursday in Mirpur, after they restricted their opponents to a modest 129/8. But their hopes were dashed as the Lankan spearhead Lasith Malinga gave a match-winning performance, capturing 4 for 26 and leading his side to a 14-run victory.
After UAE captain Amjad Javed opted to field after winning the toss, his side did a good job constraining the Lankan batting order to a mere 129 at the end of 20 overs. It was, a matter of fact, one run short of what Javed said he expected his team to restrict the Lankans to.
Javed, the stellar performer in the UAE side, took 3 wickets while conceding merely 25 runs. The Sri Lankan batting collapsed from a strong and formidable score of 68 for no loss to only 129 at the end of their allotted overs, Channel News Asia reports.
Malinga, who was playing his first game since he sustained an injury to his knee during a home series against the West Indies last year, delivered an excellent performance with the ball, pulling out two wickets in the first over of UAE’s chase. Nuwan Kulasekara, who missed the series in India, also captured two wickets in his second over. In what should have been a moderately easy chase, the UAE team found themselves in dangerous waters at 16/4.
Swapnil Patil tried to revive the team after its horrendous start, scoring 37 from 36 deliveries, but he too fell before the might of Malinga.
Speaking after the match, the Lankan captain said that he hadn’t been completely recovered. “I wanted to play this match and help other players and show them you can do whatever the team needs,” he said.
Earlier in the day, credits to the opening partnership between Tillakaratne Dilshan and Dinesh Chandimal, the Sri Lankans were looking confident with 72 in the first 10 overs. However, they only managed to score merely 57 in the last ten, losing seven wickets. Their downward spiral was highlighted by the fact that they only scored three fours in the last five overs. Chandimal scored the second half century of his T20 career, achieving the milestone in 38 balls, but lost his wicket on the subsequent delivery. He scored seven fours and the only six of the Lankan innings.
With the Lankan team eyeing a comfortable 200, as reported by ESPNcricinfo.com, their hopes were snuffed after wickets kept tumbling one after the other. The opening partnership broke after Javed forced a catch from Dilshan, who scored 27. Javed also took down Milinda Siriwardana and Chandimal.
Javed praised his side’s bowling performance after the match. “The whole game was excellent,” he said. “We put them [Sri Lanka] under pressure with the bowling. It was a big setback to lose two wickets to Malinga in the first over. Then we lost two more wickets and it is always difficult to chase.”