Sri Lanka have not won a major title for a long while and captain Angelo Mathews today said that his side were happy to have broken the “barrier of finals” by defeating Pakistan in the summit clash to lift the Asia Cup here. Sri Lanka were runners-up in the 2007 and 2011 50-over World Cups as well as in the World Twenty20 in 2009 and 2012. They were also the runners-up in the 2010 edition of the Asia Cup.
“We wanted to break the barrier between us and the finals. Big victory not only for me, but for the whole team. Haven’t won a major tournament for a while,” Mathews said after Sri Lanka regained the Asia Cup title which they had last won in 2008.
“I thought the toss wasn’t crucial and Lasith (Malinga) set us up wonderfully. It was a very good run-chase,” he added. Asked about leaving out spinner Ajantha Mendis, who had nine wickets from three matches in the tournament, Mathews said, “Very tough call to leave Mendis out because he performs well whenever we ask him to. But we wanted an extra death bowling option and Lakmal was brilliant,” he said.
Pakistan captain Misbah-ul-Haq attributed the loss to his side’s inability to execute the plans. “It was not the pressure of the final. Just didn’t execute our plans. We wanted not to give Lasith any wickets and in the end he took all our wickets,” he said.
“I think losing the first three wickets so quickly we were under pressure. We recovered well after that, but we could have added 25-30 runs more. Just could not build enough pressure with the ball.” Misbah said his batsmen did a decent job in the tournament but found wanting in the bowling department. “You need partnerships in the bowling as well. Saeed (Ajmal) was bowling really well, but we were leaking runs in the other end. Batting was a positive sign in the series, Shehazad and Afridi and Alam and Akmal and Hafeez all played really good knocks. They batted sensibly and contributed really well.”
He said Pakistan would do well in the upcoming Twenty20 World Cup as they have acclimatise well with the conditions. “Most of the guys in the T20 side are in good form and we’ve been playing here for a while so we have a great chance in the World T20,” said Misbah, who is not in the Pakistan T20 squad.
Sri Lankan opening batsman Lahiru Thirimanne, who hit 101 today and was adjudged Player of the Series, said, “Actually, I just wanted to play the anchor role today. We knew 260 was gettable but one man has to take up the responsibility and play through the innings. I am happy I did that. The ball was skidding onto the bat and I used the pace. It’s my first Man of the Series and I’m very happy about it.”
Man-of-the-Match for his 5/56 effort, Lasith Malinga said he stuck to the basics. “Last couple of days we were training hard. It was a big final and I just stuck to the basics,” he said. “Just tried to bowl good line and length and it worked for me and the team. The last few games I’ve done well against Pakistan.”