Jayawardene all praise for Fernando
Sri Lanka captain Mahela Jayawardene heaped praise on his bowlers, especially Dilhara Fernando, after his team had completed a comprehensive 70-runs victory over Bangladesh in the first ODI at the P Saravanamuttu Stadium on Friday.
Sri Lanka defended their moderate total of 234 for 6 exceptionally well by bowling Bangladesh out for 164 in the 41st over. Fernando rocked the Bangladesh top order after openers Tamim Iqbal and Shahriar Nafees had put on 45 for the first wicket by taking four wickets for 24 runs off nine overs to take the Man-of-the-Match award.
"There wasn't much juice left on it when Bangladesh batted, but there was a bit of bounce in it. Dilhara, Lasith (Malinga) and (Farveez) Maharoof bowled their hearts out. They bowled in really good areas and kept asking questions. All credit should go to Dilhara and the bowlers. They kept it tight and put pressure on the Bangladeshis. Hats off to them, they single-handedly won the game for us," said Jayawardene.
Heaping further praise on Fernando, Jayawardene said: "Dilhara's been doing well for the last 2 ½ to 3 years. It is just that he has on and off days. There was a lot of criticism thrown at him that he is not consistent. As a captain and as a team we always knew the potential this guy has. We gave him a lot of confidence and he is thriving on that now. It's good to see the way he is bowling. He's giving everything he's got and looking good."
Jayewardene also praised the batting of Upul Tharanga and Chamara Silva who each made half-centuries and figured in an 83-run stand. "The wicket had a bit in the morning. We would have bowled as well if we won the toss. It is just that it was tough. They bowled pretty well. We lost three key wickets and it was very tough for Upul and Chamara to consolidate which they did brilliantly and helped us get a competitive score. I thought we planned it nicely afterwards. 235 was a very competitive score, but it was not a winning score," Jayewardene said.
Fernando lamented the chance of missing out on getting his first five-for in an ODI. After taking 4 for 23 in his first spell of seven overs, he came back to bowl a further two overs without success. "I was a bit unlucky not to get five wickets although I tried hard. Anyway I am happy I bowled my team to victory. It was a good hard wicket, very flat so I tried hitting the deck hard," he said.
Bangladesh's captain Mohammad Ashraful blamed his middle order batting for letting his side down after his bowlers had done an excellent job in restricting the strong Lankan batting. "We didn't bat well in the second Powerplay. By the time we went to 50 we had lost too many wickets. The foundation was laid for us by the openers but the middle order disappointed. Fernando bowled well to put us in a spot. It was a good enough score for us to chase on a wicket which had eased up. It was a gettable score on that pitch," Ashraful said.
"The series is still open. We will remain positive and go out for a win in the second one-dayer," he added.