Sri Lanka have opened their Asia Cup campaign with a win against UAE at Shere Bangla National Stadium in Mirpur, Dhaka, Thursday. Lasith Malinga, Nuwan Kulasekara and Dinesh Chandimal were the star performers for the defending champions as Lankan Lions defeated UAE by 14 runs.
Sri Lanka bowlers -- Malinga (4 wickets), Kulasekara (3) and Rangana Herath (2) -- played an important role in Lanka's win as their batsmen, barring Chandimal (50 runs) and Tillakaratne Dilshan (27), were below par against UAE. Sri Lanka only scored 129 runs from their allotted 20 overs in the first innings. With such a score, the pressure was on Sri Lanka bowlers to start the innings well.
Captain Lasith Malinga did exactly what the doctor ordered, picking up two wickets in the first over of the second innings. UAE never really recovered from such a poor start. Their batsmen looked in all sorts of discomfort, against Malinga's variation and Kulasekara's accuracy.
UAE were 38 runs for the loss of five wickets in the eighth over. Run-scoring against Sri Lanka bowlers was not easy.
However, some of the shots, which the UAE batsmen played can be criticised as they were not required to play in an aggressive manner, chasing a paltry score of 129 runs.
Despite top order's failure, UAE's wicket-keeper batsmen Swapnil Patil, who scored 37 runs, gave his best and tried to snatch a historic win. But, Malinga came back for his second spell and dismissed Patil to end any hopes of UAE win.
UAE scored 115 for the loss of nine wickets in their 20 overs.
Earlier, Sri Lanka, who were asked to bat by UAE, got off to a brilliant start with Tillakratane Dilshan and Chandimal scoring some quick runs for first wicket. The Lions lost their first wicket in the 10th over, score reading 68 runs. Dilshan was the first batsman to head back to the pavilion after scoring 27 runs.
Even after the dismissal of Dilshan, Chandimal was taking the attack to the opposition. He scored 39-ball 50, but after the wicket-keeper batsman was dismissed, wickets began to fall at regular intervals. Chandimal had provided a perfect base for the middle order to up the ante and score some huge runs, but their batsmen failed to do so.
Suddenly, the predicted score of 160-plus looked difficult as they were tottering for 105 runs with five wickets down. Even Angelo Mathews, their star player, could not help the cause as he was out for eight runs only.
Besides Chandimal and Dilshan, none of the batsmen were confident against the UAE bowlers, who looked impressive. Amjad Javed was the pick of the bowler for UAE, not only containing the run flow, but also dismissing the top three batsmen of Sri Lanka. Opening bowler, Mohammad Naveed also bowled well in his second spell, picking up two wickets.
Despite a good bowling performance from UAE, their batsmen failed to deliver as Sri Lanka bowlers used all their experience to defeat their opponent.
Sri Lanka, who face Bangladesh in their next fixture, Sunday, are aware that their batsmen need to come up with a better performance to defeat the hosts and increase their chances of reaching the Asia Cup final. UAE also face Bangaldesh, Friday.
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