Lasith Malinga, Nuwan Kulasekara and Rangana Herath picked up 9 wickets between them to save Sri Lanka from what could have been an extremely embarrassing loss to UAE, in their 1st game of the Asia Cup 2016.

Chasing a meager total of 130 to secure a historic win, the UAE batsmen could not cope with Sri Lanka’s most experienced bowling trio and ultimately succumbed to a 14 run defeat.

After being sent into bat by UAE skipper Amjad Javed, the Sri Lankan batsmen bumbled their way to 129 off their allotted overs, managing to score just 57 runs in the final 10 overs while losing 7 wickets. Things began well for the Lankans, however, with Tillakaratne Dilshan and his newest opening partner Dinesh Chandimal putting on 68 runs for the 1st wicket. Neither batsman really went after the bowling, recognizing the nature of the pitch and understanding the importance of keeping wickets in hand. Dilshan was dismissed off the 1st ball of the 10th over and the Sri Lankan management decided that this would be the time to experiment a little, sending Milinda Siriwardene in at No. 3.

Photo Album – Sri Lanka vs UAE – Asia Cup 2016

At this point it looked like Sri Lanka would end up with a total in excess of 150 but the plan backfired  as Siriwardene was dismissed cheaply in the 12th over, leaving Sri Lanka a little behind the eight ball despite having gotten a good start. Dasun Shanaka was in next and the hard hitting right hander found the conditions not at all to his liking, struggling to time the ball. While he struggled on one end, Chandimal brought up a well-constructed half century only to smash the very next delivery straight to midwicket. The boundaries had now well and truly dried up, leaving the middle order with little choice but to go for their shots. Shanaka was put out of his misery as he tried to slap a length ball over the infield, only succeeding in finding the fielder at mid-off. Angelo Mathews followed soon after, failing to connect an ambitious reverse sweep and being trapped LBW. Shehan Jayasuriya tried to put some impetus in the innings, lapping the ball to fine leg for four but he was clean bowled attempting the same shot off the next ball as Mohammed Naveed bowled a fast, full delivery. Chamara Kapugedara was given a reprieve in the 19th over when a skier was dropped by Naveed but could not make the most of it as he was dismissed two deliveries later. Nuwan Kulasekara struck a boundary off the penultimate delivery of the innings to ensure that UAE would have to chase a total of 130.

Sri Lanka’s struggle with the bat was epitomized by the fact that, apart from the openers, only two other batsmen, Jayasuriya and Kapugedara, who both got 10, reached double figures. The UAE team bowled particularly well in the middle to latter overs, exploiting the panicky Sri Lankan middle order to the fullest. Skipper Javed was the pick of the bowlers for the men from UAE, picking Dilshan, Siriwardene and Chandimal.

UAE’s chase got off to the worst possible start, losing opener and in form batsman Rohan Mustafa off the very first ball as Malinga returned to international cricket with a bang, trapping the batsman with a sharp delivery. Malinga then out foxed Mohammed Shahzad with a slower ball on the last ball of the over, leaving UAE reeling at 7/2. Kulasekara also put in a double wicket over in the 4th over of the innings as the experienced pacies put all their skills on display. UAE never quite recovered from the early losses although Keeper Swapnil Patil kept them in the game with some sensible batting. Rangana Herath made his presence felt, just as Shaiman Anwar and Patil began building a partnership, dismissing the former for 13. The climbing required rate got to the inexperienced UAE batsmen and Saqlain Haider was dismissed trying to hoick Herath out of the ground. Javed and Patil put on a 38 run partnership to again bring UAE back into contention but Malinga and Kulasekara returned to break the back of the chase, picking up 3 more wickets to leave the target well out of reach.

Sri Lanka will be happy with their bowling performance, particularly the fact that all those returning from injury were able to get a good work out. What will definitely worry them however is the fact that Malinga pulled up short after taking a running catch and seemed to have injured himself.

Sri Lanka’s next game will be against hosts Bangladesh on the 28th and they will certainly have to up their game if they are to overcome the Tigers.

Full Scorecard

BatsmanHow OutBowlerRuns4s6sSR
Total(20 overs)129 for 8 wickets
Chandiamlc. M.Shahzadb. Amjad Javed5071128.20
Dilshanc. M.Usmanb. Amjad Javed274096.42
Siriwardanac. Saqlain Haiderb. Amjad Javed60085.71
Shankac. Shaiman Anwarb. M.Naveeed50045.45
Mathews lbwb. Rohan Mustafa80088.88
Jayasuriyab. M.Naveeed1020142.85
Kapugedarac. Ahmed Razac. M.Shahzad100090.90
Kulasekarac. Patilc. M.Shahzad710100.00
Chameera not out100100.00
Extras4w, lb 15

Did not bat: Herath, SL Malinga*

BowlerOversMaidensRunsWicketsEcon
M.Naveeed402726.75
Qadeer Ahmed201809.00
Amjad Javed402536.25
M.Shahzad302729.00
Ahmed Raza401403.50
Rohan Mustafa301715.66
BatsmanHow OutBowlerRuns4s6sSR
Total(20 overs)115 for 9 wickets
Rohan Mustafa lbwb. Malinga0000.00
M.Kaleemc. Mathewsb. Kulasekara70063.63
M.Shahzad b. Malinga10050.00
M.Usmanc. Kapugedarab. Kulasekara61066.66
Shaiman Anwarc. Chandimalb. Herath132086.66
Patilc & b. Malinga3732102.77
Saqlain Haiderc. Chandimalb. Herath10011.11
Amjad Javedc. Kapugedarab. Kulasekara130072.22
M.Naveedc. Mathewsb. Malinga1010100.00
Ahmed Razanot out900112.50
Qadeer Ahmednot out20050.00
Extras6w, lb 2, b 1, nb 716
BowlerOversMaidensRunsWicketsEcon
Mailnga402646.50
Kulasekara411032.50
Mathews3.402406.54
Herath402225.50
Chameera3.202206.60
Siriwardana10808.00