Hambantota: Having blown away the chance of taking a psychological edge over Sri Lanka by winning the first match of their tour, Pakistan will now look to bounce back in the second and final Twenty20 international in Hambantota on Sunday.
The visitors, led by bowling spearhead Sohail Tanvir, at one point restricted the hosts to 89 for 7 in 17 overs, but a quick-fire 32 off 16 balls by allrounder Thisara Perera took the Lankan score to 132. The strategy of bowling out Tanvir, the left-arm seamer who took 3 for 12 in his four overs, at one go though seemed to have worked initially, it backfired as other bowlers proved ineffective in death overs. Still, the target was not menacing by any stretch of the imagination, but the Pakistan batsmen surrendered meekly, fluffing the chance of starting the tour on a winning note.
And though both Sri Lanka and Pakistan are working on strategies to give their teams a more settled look ahead of the ICC World Twenty to be held in Sri Lanka in September, it’s Pakistan who will have to ponder more than their Asian counterparts. Their experiment of giving 33-year-old Shakeel Ansar his debut and asking him to bat at No. 3 failed miserably as the wicketkeeper batsman, along with team’s new T20 skipper Mohammad Hafeez, made a golden duck. Although Shoaib Malik was unlucky after being caught brilliantly by Perera at deep third-man, Khalid Latif, Umar Akmal and Shahid Afridi were all failed when the team required them to contribute just a little with the bat.
With his performance, Tanvir has definitely improved his credentials to get picked for World Twenty20, while Saeed Ajmal was once again at his best, picking up 2 for 20 in his quota of overs. But as both Mohammad Sami and Umar Gul went for plenty on Friday, who will partner Tanvir upfront will be a big question in coach Dav Whatmore’s mind.
Sri Lanka, despite an average showing by their batsmen, still managed to pull things back with their disciplined bowling. It’s hard to see the experienced trio of Mahela Jayawardene, Kumar Sangakkara and Tillakaratne Dilshan getting failed one more time, while Angelo Mathews, Dinesh Chandimal and Lahiru Thirimanne, who made his T20 debut in the last match, are getting better with every outing. So barring the unpredictable nature of Twenty20, the more experienced Sri Lanka once again look favourites against Pakistan in the second game.
Sri Lanka: 1 Mahela Jayawardene (capt), 2 Tillakaratne Dilshan, 3 Kumar Sangakkara (wk), 4 Dinesh Chandimal, 5 Angelo Mathews, 6 Lahiru Thirimanne, 7 Kaushal Lokuarachchi, 8 Thisara Perera, 9 Nuwan Kulasekera, 10 Lasith Malinga, 11 Sachithra Senanayake
Pakistan: 1 Mohammad Hafeez, 2 Ahmed Shehzad, 3 Khalid Latif, 4 Shoaib Malik, 5 Umar Akmal, 6 Shahid Afridi, 7 Shakeel Ansar, 8 Sohail Tanvir, 9, Umar Gul, 10 Mohammad Sami, 11 Saeed Ajmal