Jayawardene credits Malinga for turnaround
Sri Lanka captain Mahela Jayawardene, while praising the effort of Thisara Perera, who swung the fourth ODI Sri Lanka's way with a hat-trick, said a lot of credit should go to Lasith Malinga for setting it all up. Pakistan needed 78 to win from 76 deliveries with eight wickets in hand when Malinga dismissed Misbah-ul-Haq for 57 to trigger a collapse which had them crumbling from 166 for 2 to 179 for 9.
"Lasith gave us that momentum. A couple of overs of aggressive bowling put them on the back foot and created a bit of doubt in their minds," Jayawardene said. "Lasith triggered it off and [Nuwan] Kulasekera picked up Umar [Akmal] so those two senior bowlers did the damage upfront and then Thisara came and bowled probably one of the best overs I've seen. He needed a bit of luck but at the same time he put the ball in the right areas to create those opportunities. It was a great team effort. I am very proud of the boys."
Jayawardene said the game could have gone either way when Pakistan took the batting Powerplay at the start of the 36th over at 152 for 2. "It's tough for the batsman to go after the batting Powerplay. You have to take calculated risks and try and get some momentum with the field up," Jayawardene said. "I knew that either we could lose the match in the 45th over or we could get 2-3 wickets and get back into the game. It went our way and the bowlers should take credit. In that situation they put their hands up and bowled well."
Jayawardene welcomed the return to form of his former captain Kumar Sangakkara who scored a fluent 97 following a string of low scores. After a slow start, Sangakkara benefited from a dropped catch to dominate the 110-run fourth-wicket partnership with Jayawardene. "I am not too worried about Kumar's performances because I know that when he struggles for a couple of games he is much hungrier for big runs. He is definitely sure to get one big but the wicket played a part in it. It was a bit slow so it took him some time to get going. Once Kumar and myself got together I just told him, 'let's try and take the bowlers on' because we had to push the run-rate. Once we got that momentum both of us batted really well."
"It's about understanding each other's game. It was important that in the first 20-30 overs we didn't lose too many wickets. Kumar did that pretty well but when three wickets fell around him he had to hold back but when he wanted to go he went. It was a very good team effort a lot of guys took responsibility in different situations and performed well."