Sri Lanka overcame their batting failure with a disciplined bowling performance to beat United Arab Emirates by 14 runs in a round robin league encounter of the Asia Cup T20, on Thursday.
Put into bat by UAE, the defending World T20 champions could manage only 129 for eight in 20 overs with only Dinesh Chandimal (50) making a significant contribution.
But skipper Lasith Malinga dealt twin blows in the very first over with two block-hole deliveries to peg back UAE, who only managed 115 for 9 in their stipulated overs. The target was a small one but UAE’s inexperience against big teams was the main factor in not being able to chase down a small total.
In a match that never rose to dizzy heights, the only notable incident was pacer Dushmantha Chameera being barred from completing the final over of the innings for bowling two beamers which is illegal as per rules. It was Angelo Mathews who completed the formalities.
The batsmen, even after recovering from the top-order damage, never went for the chase.
Within the first five overs, UAE lost four wickets with seasoned duo of Malinga (4/26 in 4 overs) and Nuwan Kulasekara (3/10 in 4 overs) sharing the spoils. With half of the team being back in the dug-out before the total reaching even 40, it was virtually impossible for the qualifiers to make a match out of it.
It started with the very first delivery that left-handed opener Rehan Mustafa (0) faced. Malinga bowled one that was full and swung into batsman’s pads. It would have crashed into middle and leg and the decision was an easy one for the umpire.
In that very over, Malinga dealt another telling blow removing UAE’s best batsman Mohammed Shahzad (1) with another full delivery that went through his defences.
Muhammad Kaleem (7) tried to clear mid-off but Angelo Mathews took a simple catch to give Kulasekara his first wicket. UAE were in tatters at 16 for four when Muhammed Usman (6) tried a hoick off Kulasekara but Chamara Kapugedara took a regulation catch at first slip. At that moment, the match was virtually over but Swapnil Patil (37) to save his team the blushes. But Patil did not play too many big shots even when he was set. None of the other batsmen crossed 15-run mark for UAE.
Rangana Herath (2/22) got a couple of middle-order wickets and kept the pressure on UAE.
However UAE will take some positives out of this match, especially a good performance from their bowlers led by skipper Amjad Javed (3/25), who got the first three Sri Lankan wickets including Chandimal, Tillakaratne Dilshan (27) and Milinda Siriwardana (6).
Chandimal scored 50 off 39 balls with seven fours and one six, adding 68 runs for the opening stand with Dilshan.
Sri Lanka were 72 for one after first 10 overs but some poor shot selection saw them score only 57 in the next 10, losing seven more wickets. After the openers, none of the Lankan batsmen could cross 10-run mark. However the bowlers did the job for them on the day.