Sri Lanka captain Dinesh Chandimal has admitted his team may have misread conditions in Dubai after their three-wicket loss to Pakistan in the first Twenty20. Chandimal had said his team should have aimed to score 150 batting first at the toss, but after the match he suggested the pitch played better than he had anticipated, and a score closer to 160 should have been their goal. Sri Lanka made 145 for 5.
"In the last year this pitch has been really slow, but this time the ball was coming nicely on to the bat. I think we were about 10-15 runs short as a batting side. After that, our bowlers didn't bowl in the right areas and we gave away some 10-20 runs. Our fielding was also below par. That's why I think we lost the game."
Chandimal lost the toss but had intended to bat first, believing dew would be less of an impediment to the side bowling second than it proved to be.
"After about 10 overs, the dew factor came into play. Then our spinners couldn't grip the ball. At that time, we couldn't bowl really well, and also the ball came onto the bat really well after 10 overs. The dew factor also contributed to us losing the game.
"We came to the ground on the previous night to check the dew, but last night there was no dew. We had a game plan, which was to bat first because they have some good bowlers, and we wanted to put the runs on the board and put pressure on them. In the end Shahid Afridi played a good cameo role. His innings was the turning point."
Pakistan captain Mohammad Hafeez had anticipated the dew, and he lauded his bowlers' for restricting Sri Lanka to a manageable score. Sri Lanka could not score at more than 6.5 runs an over for much of their innings, as Afridi and Saeed Ajmal pinned them down during the middle overs, with regular wickets slowing their progress.
"We were expecting the same total," Hafeez said. "We were thinking if we can restrict them under 150 or 140, we would have a good chance because we've got a good batting unit, and also allrounders like Shahid Afridi, Bilawal Bhatti and Sohail Tanvir can give us more strength in our lower order. Once we restricted them to the 140s, we knew we could do it. We were very confident we could chase it. The way Shahid Afridi finished the game was pleasing to see."
The victory was largely scripted by Pakistan's more experienced players, but 24-year-old opener, Sharjeel Khan, made a promising 34, though bowlers Bilawal Bhatti and Usman Khan had less successful outings. Hafeez suggested inexperienced players would be trialled again in the next match, with a view to playing them in the World Twenty20 in March.
"The mega-event is about to come, so that's why we tried some of the new guys - Bilawal Bhatti, Sohaib Maqsood and Sharjeel Khan. We are planning for the World Twenty20, and what we wanted was for seniors and juniors to play together. Going into the mega-event, the juniors will get a little bit of feel of international cricket, and they are performing very well and showing great character. At the same time the seniors are playing their role. We are happy with the momentum we are getting."