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Asia Cup 2016: Sri Lankan bowlers come to the fore as UAE batsmen falter in narrow chase

Ram Kumar
3.41K   //    25 Feb 2016, 22:26 IST
Dinesh Chandimal
Dinesh Chandimal played with purpose to prop up Sri Lanka on a tricky surface

Sri Lanka overcame some nervous moments to stifle the UAE lineup by striking at regular intervals and open their campaign with a tense victory at the Shere Bangla Stadium in Dhaka. After a below par batting performance, the Lankan bowlers outsmarted the UAE batsmen with their experience and variety. Despite Swapnil Patil's impressive cameo, UAE fell short in the end.

Earlier, they won the toss on a surface which bore a slight resemblance to yesterday’s match. Not surprisingly, skipper Amjad Javed opted to insert the Lankans in. He would have wanted his new-ball bowlers to use the underneath moisture to their advantage and nip out a wicket or two in the power play.

But, Sri Lanka were off to a flier in the first few overs after Dinesh Chandimal and Tillakaratne Dilshan capitalized on some inconsistent bowling from the UAE seamers. However, it was not at all an easy going as Dilshan was hit a few times on the glove and struggled to time the ball as he normally does.

After reaching 27 off 28 balls, Dilshan should have cut loose and increased the run-rate. But, Javed had other ideas and his medium-pace worked wonders as he snaffled the veteran opener with some extra bounce.

Chandimal struck his maiden T20I half-century by unleashing an array of strokes. However, Javed continued his remarkable spell by scalping Milinda Siriwardana and Chandimal in his successive overs. Sri Lanka were 89/3 at that stage from 13.2 overs.

What followed was a combination of inept batting from their inexperienced middle-order and tight bowling from the UAE bowlers. Mohammad Naveed picked up the dangerous Dasun Shanaka while Rohan Mustafa’s off-spin yielded the prized wicket of Angelo Mathews.

Mohammad Shahzad joined in the action with a couple of wickets as Sri Lanka capsized to 129/8 at the end of 20 overs. Even though it was a bowler-friendly pitch, Sri Lanka were almost 20 runs short and could have done much better with the bat.

UAE’s chase got off to a disastrous start as comeback man Lasith Malinga proved too much to handle for their top-order batsmen. Reclaiming his lethal change of pace and remarkable skill to vary his length successfully, Malinga nipped out two in the first over itself.

It could have gotten worse as Siriwardena dropped a sitter in first slip to reprieve Muhammad Kaleem. The drop did not turn out to be costly as Kaleem holed out to Mathews which meant that Kulasekara got his man finally.

A cluster of wickets resulted in UAE plummeting to 47/6 at the 10-over mark. Swapnil Patil arrived at the crease and infused panic in the opposition dressing room with some lusty blows. But, skipper Malinga came back in the end, to remove the 30-year old with a slower ball thereby effectively sealing the match.

Despite Dushmantha Chameera’s horror show in the final over, Sri Lanka sneaked home in the end. While the Lankans would breathe a sigh of relief, UAE coach Aquib Javed should be frustrated with his team’s approach towards the run chase. If they had kept wickets in the death overs, UAE could have caused a flutter. However, it was not to be.

Brief Scores: Sri Lanka 129/8 (Chandimal 50, Dilshan 27, Javed 3-25) beat UAE 115/9 (Patil 37, Malinga 4-26, Kulasekara 3-10) by 14 runs

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Ram Kumar
Someone who views sport as a metaphor for life.
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