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Former Sri Lanka captain Kumar Sangakkara regretted Sri Lanka’s performance against Pakistan in the last group match of the ICC Champions Trophy. Sri Lanka exited the tournament after being defeated by Pakistan on Monday by three wickets. The win allowed the Sarfraz Ahmed-led Pakistan to move into the semi-finals.
He gave credit to Sarfraz for his brilliant match-winning knock, In his column for ICC he wrote,”A Sri Lanka versus Pakistan virtual quarter-final was always likely to be an intriguing encounter with an unpredictable outcome – in the end Pakistan scraped through, thanks to some woeful lapses in the field from Sri Lanka and a really gutsy 61 not out from Sarfraz Ahmed.”
According to Sangakkara, both teams made plenty of mistakes, but it was Sri Lanka who made mistakes at crucial junctures and missed too many opportunities.
Sangakkara praised youngster, Nuwan Pradeep who brought Sri Lanka back into the match,” Bowling with heart and aggression, he dragged Sri Lanka back into a game it looked set to lose with Pakistan 76/0, while chasing a modest 236 all out. It collapsed to 162 for seven and it looked like Sri Lanka would once again rise to the occasion in a major ICC event.”
Sangakkara feels that Malinga should have grabbed Azhar Ali for a duck and also Sarfraz should have been caught for 38 when Thisara Perera dropped a simple catch.
Sangakkara praised Niroshan Dickwella as Sri Lanka build a strong partnership at the top of the order, taking Sri Lanka to 82 for one. “Dickwella was particularly impressive. He is a very organised and skilful player who has a very bright future for Sri Lanka if he continues to develop. The fact that his 73 came from 86 balls with just four boundaries just shows how intelligently he played.”
Sangakkara was impressed by Hasan Ali’s bowling performance and wrote,”Pakistan created panic with a mid-innings collapse, inspired by the aggressive Hasan Ali. His confidence seemed to be sky-high after his brilliant three for 24 against South Africa and he found a great rhythm.”
Sangakkara feels that captain Angelo Mathews is the key in crunch situations for Sri Lanka, “Mathews showed how critical he is to this Sri Lanka batting line-up, rebuilding the innings with Dickwella with some authority. Sri Lanka look a completely different team when they have him in the middle-order.”
“With better fielding, a problem for a while now, Sri Lanka might well have conjured up a surprise victory for that weak position. Instead, it is left ruing very costly mistakes in very critical moments.”
Sangakkara believes that Pakistan will be thrilled with the manner in which it has battled its way into a semi-final berth with England. It was thrashed by India in its first game but has shown character and fierce spirit to overcome that and win against South Africa and Sri Lanka.
“I certainly did not expect Bangladesh and Pakistan to qualify, but credit to them for doing so. They deserve their places.” Sangakkara concluded.