Helped by some scratchy batting from opener Tillekaratne Dilshan, Pakistan bowlers restricted Sri Lanka to a modest 139 for four in the first semi-final of the ICC World Twenty20 here on Thursday.
While skipper Mahela Jayawardene had provided the right start with a 36-ball-42, Dilshan struggled throughout the middle overs as he managed only 35 off 42 balls.
The Lankans managed 16 runs of the final over when Thisara Perera hit a couple of fours while Angelo Mathews also managed a thick edge which propelled the score to 139.
Shahid Afridi, Mohammed Hafeez, Umar Gul and Saeed Ajmal got a wicket each but more importantly didn’t go for too many runs.
The decision to promote left-hander Jeevan Mendis above Mathews and Perrera was baffling as the former played a lot of dot balls that added to the pressure on Dilshan.
Jayawardene’s batting was a treat to watch. He perished trying to play the sweep shot one too many but till he was executing it with ease in the first 10 overs.
A shrewd thinker, Jayawardene saw that off-spinner Ajmal, with his doosras, leg-spinner Afridi and slow left-arm orthodox Raza Hassan were all spinning the ball away from him.
In the circumstances, he found the reverse sweep as the safest option and he played it with consummate ease.
He started with a slog sweep of Hassan and then got a couple of boundaries off Ajmal —— first one was a lap shot over short fine leg and then a reverse sweep.
Watching Jayawardene take charge, Dilshan, who had started off on a rousing note with two boundaries in the first two overs, played the second fiddle.
The Lankan captain first reverse swept Afridi for a boundary and then in the bowler’s next over, the Lankan skipper hit him over extra cover for another boundary as it brought up the 50.
Such was Jayawardene’s dominance that he scored 34 of the first 50 runs with Dilshan’s contribution being only 15.
In the 11th over, Afridi finally got his man when Jayawardene shuffled across the off-stump to play another lap-shot but it didn’t have the power to clear Hassan stationed at short fine leg.
Jayawardene’s 42 came off 36 balls during which he struck boundaries.
New man in Kumar Sangakkara started on a positive fashion hitting three lovely fours but perished trying to be over-ambitious being holed out at long-on off Hafeez’s bowling. Sangakkara managed only 18.
The home team reached 100 at the end of the 15th over but their struggle started after that.
Dilshan and left-hander Mendis played too many dot balls in that phase which increased the pressure on the home team.
In fact Dilshan’s struggle was to such an extent that it took him 31 deliveries to hit his third boundary having hit the second one in the second over.
Umar Gul, introduced in the 16th over, bowled fast and full to both Dilshan and Mendis to make their life miserable.
Mendis was adjudged leg before to a delivery that pitched on blockhole but TV replays showed that Gul had overstepped and the decision was reversed. Finally, Gul ended Dilshan’s misery with another fuller delivery that the batsman missed to be adjudged leg-before.
The Dilshan-Mendis duo could add only 33 runs in the five overs they played together. Mendis was then stumped off an Ajmal delivery when he tried to give the charge after struggling for 18 deliveries to score his 15.