LAHORE - Sloppy fielding, poor keeping and irresponsible batting let Pakistan down in the first Twenty20 international against Sri Lanka at Hambantota on Friday.
M Sami who made his comeback in the Pakistan team failed to deliver as he punished by Sangakkara who cracked three back to back boundaries in his first over and put Sri Lanka on track after early shocks of Jayawardene and Dilshan.
Pakistan debutant wicketkeeper Shakil Ansar also disappointed with his performance as he missed two stumpings and a couple of chances during Sri Lankan innings.
Pakistan players shown irresponsible batting and did not tried to stay at crease to steady their innings and threw away their wickets and the team failed to play full 20 overs.
On the other hand, Sri Lanka outplayed Pakistan in every department of the game. They played well despite top order collapse and went on to score 132 runs that proved too good for Pakistan. They field superbly and taken some superb catches that won the match for them.
Pakistan never recovered after losing two quick wickets off the first two balls of the innings, with Kulasekera removing skipper Hafeez and debutant Shakeel Ansar and the visitors never recovered from that double jolt and struggled throughout the game.
The Sri Lankan bowlers were backed by their fielders, with Perera and Kulasekera each taking a superb catch. Sri Lankan pacemen Nuwan Kulasekera, Angelo Mathews and Lasith Malinga and debutant off-spinner Sachithra Senanayake took two wickets apiece after man-of-the-match Thisara Perera scored a crucial 32 not out.
Earlier, Pakistan's left-arm seamer Sohail Tanveer was the chief destroyer of the Lankan innings as he removed captain Mahela Jayawardene, Tillakaratne Dilshan and Kumar Sangakkara. Tanveer struck with his third delivery when he had Jayawardene caught by Shoaib Malik in the covers and then had Dilshan caught by Umar Gul at fine-leg in his next over. Sangakkara (19) hit three successive fours off paceman Sami before he inside-edged a Tanvir delivery onto his stumps.
Tanveer finished with 3-12 off four tight overs, his best performance in T20 internationals, while off-spinner Saeed Ajmal bagged two wickets for 20 runs.
However, the man of the match award went to Sri Lanka's Thisara Perera for hitting two sixes and two fours in his unbeaten 16-ball 32 runs. Perera was also outstanding in the field as a claimed a remarkable full-length diving catch at third man to dismiss Shoaib Malik. Lahiru Thirimanne, making his T20 debut, was the other main scorer with a 25-ball 30.
Hafeez, as a captain, failed to impress with his leadership qualities as he sent one-down debutant players, wicketkeeper batsman Shakeel Ansar, who failed to deliver at the crucial stage of the match. Shoaib, who returned after a long time in the national team looked out of match practice and went also cheaply.
Opener Ahmed Shehzad led a partial recovery with 42-ball 36. He played well and blocked one end up but wickets tumbled from the other hand. Ahmed is popular for aggressive game in Pakistan but played responsible knock to keep Pakistan hopes alive but hosts failed to play complete 20 overs as they were bundled out for 95 runs in 17.4 overs. Umar Akmal (12) was the other batsman to reach double-figures.
Pakistan players batted individually instead of playing as a team and in this process, they threw away their wickets that made Pakistan team struggle against the fine bowling from Sri Lankans. Pakistan will take on Sri Lanka in the second Twenty20 today (Sunday) and they have to work hard to win the match.
Pakistan should have to make at least three changes, Shakil Ansar should be dropped and wickets should be kept by Umar Akmal, Sami should be replaced by Hammad Azam who has an edge over Sami as he can bat a bit and thirdly Shoaib Malik should be rested and Haris Sohail should be included in the playing XI if Pakistan want to level the series.
Coach Dav Whatmore and the team management along with captain should sit down to chalk out a plan to win the Sunday's (today) game or otherwise be ready to face another defeat which will also affect players morale and harms the Pakistan team's preparations for the upcoming World Twenty20 Cup campaign.
No one tried to stay at the crease to achieve the victory target that was achievable. Coach Dav Whatmore and team management should also monitor the players attitude with each other and also assess behaviour and if they observe that there is something wrong then that must solve the problem amicably to put team on winning track.