Pakistan captain Misbah-ul-Haq has attributed his team's Asia Cup final defeat to his bowlers' inability to put pressure on Sri Lanka's batsmen. Chasing 261, Sri Lanka, led by a century from Lahiru Thirimanne, cruised to a five-wicket win to take their fifth Asia Cup title.
Only Saeed Ajmal posed a threat to Sri Lanka, as Pakistan looked to defend a hard-earned total. Ajmal took 3 for 26 in 10 overs, but apart from him and to an extent, Mohammad Hafeez, the rest of the attack - Umar Gul, Junaid Khan, Mohammad Talha and Shahid Afridi - were all ineffective.
Misbah had to take Ajmal off after the offspinner had taken two quick wickets in his first spell of four overs. He had given away just ten runs, having delivered two maiden overs as well. The Sri Lankan batsmen opted against attacking Ajmal, prompting Misbah to switch bowlers to try and wrestle a wicket.
"They were just consuming his [Ajmal's] overs, just blocking him," Misbah said. "I thought I would take a chance with someone else, to get the wicket. But I think it was a bad day for all the bowlers. They couldn't really put pressure, and you can't win matches with just one bowler. You need to bowl well as a unit."
Gul and Talha have now had two poor games back-to-back after bowling ordinarily against Bangladesh. Junaid went for 56 in nine overs, only picking up Ashan Priyanjan's wicket very late in the game.
"We sought early breakthroughs which Saeed Ajmal finally provided us. Bowling too requires partnerships but none of the bowlers could build that sort of pressure on the batsmen. I think it became easy for them, and they won the game.
"We didn't bowl wicket to wicket, and build pressure. Sri Lankan bowlers did that. It was a slow wicket so you had to bowl straighter. Our lengths were quite short too. And we gave a lot of width too, which made it easy for them."
But Pakistan's real problem, as the captain recognised, was their start with the bat. Sharjeel Khan, Ahmed Shehzad and Hafeez all got out in 4.3 overs, leaving the middle- and lower-order far too much to do in a final.
Lasith Malinga was the man responsible for Pakistan having a poor start, picking up a five-wicket haul just as he did in the tournament opener against the same team in Fatullah. Incidentally, Thrimianne too had scored a century in that game.
"Thirimanne played really well and Malinga's first spell was a good one as he swung the ball. He put us under pressure, but we did play some bad shots.
"It was our plan not to give Malinga wickets, but we failed to execute that. He again took five wickets and put us under pressure."
Despite losing the first and last game of the tournament, Pakistan will leave with a happy batting line-up after the wins against India and Bangladesh. They successfully chased 245 and 327 respectively, the latter having broken the record for their biggest chase.
"The team really played well, especially the batting department. Ahmed Shehzad played well. Fawad Alam played two very good innings. Shahid Afridi finished two games. Hafeez and Umar Akmal are in good touch. These are positives. We chased well in two games. Before the World T20s, we are in good shape and are confident."