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January 26, 2013
Electric was the right word to describe Sri Lanka's fielding in their opening Twenty20 victory, and the articulate Angelo Mathews found it. His opposite number George Bailey noted ruefully but truthfully that he had never seen a team get outfielded in this format and go on to win the game. Mathews was by contrast delighted with the way his XI had attacked Australia, as bowlers and fielders, taking wickets early and then restricting their scoring.
Australia's tally of 3 for 137 had looked inadequate, even if it had been pulled together largely via an outstanding, controlled innings by David Warner. And the fact Sri Lanka had such a manageable chase could be put down to the hard work put in earlier by Mathews' alert and agile team, who responded to their captain's first full match in charge, after a washed-out encounter against New Zealand in October.
"We started off brilliantly," Mathews said. "We were electric in the field and the bowlers bowled very well, I thought Lasith [Malinga] and [Nuwan] Kulasekara were brilliant. They showed their class and they were the ones who pulled us back.
"I thought the par score was 150 to 160. It feels great beating Australia. Playing in Australia the Aussies are always competitive, it is a great challenge and the boys did extremely well today."
Australia made only 31 runs from the final four overs of the innings, delivered with great skill and precision by Kulasekara and Malinga. It was here that Mathews and Bailey felt the game was won. "I knew Lasith had two overs and Kulasekara had two overs, I know they're world-class bowlers and it was totally up to them to make their fields," Mathews said. "They were absolutely brilliant today."
Bailey doffed his cap to Sri Lanka's endeavour in the field, and was disconsolate that his side had not been as tight in the field as numerous wild returns and outfield fumbles were compounded by the odd dropped catch.
"I thought we ended up a few runs short, but we had that platform set, and to be fair I thought Sri Lanka bowled unbelievably well their last four overs," Bailey said. "Any side that can bowl to Davey [Warner], set, and deprive him of boundaries, and Vogesy [Adam Voges] too … they executed unbelievably well.
"I thought our fielding was disappointing, and that probably cost us 10 runs in fielding, so that adds up in a T20 game, plus some dropped catches. I've never seen a T20 game where if you get outfielded you win the game - I think the best fielding side always wins."
Sri Lanka's only concern is a cut over the eye of Tillakaratne Dilshan, inflicted by a Ben Laughlin bouncer. He will have the wound assessed ahead of game two in Melbourne on Monday.
Daniel Brettig is an assistant editor at ESPNcricinfo. He tweets hereFeeds: Daniel Brettig
© ESPN Sports Media Ltd.
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