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June 8, 2012
Misbah-ul-Haq, the Pakistan captain, has said losing the toss worked to his team's advantage during its win over Sri Lanka in the first ODI in Pallekele. Mahela Jayawardene chose to bat but Pakistan's bowlers put in a fine performance to restrict the hosts to 135 for 8 in a rain-affected game.
"It was a difficult decision for any captain about what to do," Misbah said at the post-match presentation ceremony. "It was a good toss to lose. There was a lot of moisture in the wicket and covers were on."
Pakistan's seamers led the way, with Umar Gul nipping out the first three wickets - he ultimately won the Man-of-the-Match award - and Mohammad Sami providing excellent support in an economical spell during which he picked up three for 19 in six overs. Mohammad Hafeez was also miserly with his off-spin, taking 2 for 20 in 10 overs. "We have got world-class spinners and whenever the fast bowlers get the conditions [they need], they come good."
Pakistan reached their target with almost eight overs to spare, but lost two wickets early. Hafeez and Misbah steadied the innings with a 51-run stand before Umar Akmal made an unbeaten 36, steering his team home. "The conditions were really difficult for batting," Misbah said, "but the way Hafeez and Umar batted, it was really handy.
"We have to improve in these conditions - it's a windy and open ground. It's difficult to judge, so we have to work hard."
Jayawardene said a score of around 190 to 200 would have proved competitive. "It was important we put up a decent score," he said. "But credit to Pakistan, they came strongly at us. We faced two new balls in Australia as well, but they have got a quality attack and we need to make sure we are careful."
The second ODI, on Saturday, will also take place in Pallekele.
© ESPN Sports Media Ltd.
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