Misbah-ul-Haq, the Pakistan captain, has said he was happy with the way his side fought back after losing early wickets in the second ODI against Sri Lanka in Dubai, even though Pakistan ultimately lost the game by 25 runs.
Set a target of 236, Pakistan slumped to 11 for 3 as Mohammad Hafeez, Imran Farhat and Younis Khan made just seven runs between them. Umar Akmal led the recovery with a sparkling 91, but Pakistan eventually came up short, and were bowled out for 210 in 46.3 overs.
"I think the way they started, them taking three early wickets, we were under pressure," Misbah said. "Everyone fought well until it ended. It was a bad day for us. It was just a matter of playing 50 overs, which we did not do. I am happy with the way we fought after losing three early wickets. The youngsters really performed well.
Umar had the chase under control, but perished in the batting Powerplay while attempting a fourth successive boundary. That gave Sri Lanka the opening, and they dismantled the lower order to seal victory.
"Umar Akmal's natural game is to have a go at the bowlers, so he was doing that," Misbah reasoned. "I think he tried his level best, the way he played he just made the game for us, but sometimes you make mistakes. That's a part of cricket - he had just scored three boundaries, but he took a chance. He should have gone for a single but I think he was confident. Sometimes you get out playing confident shots. It is a part of the game."
Earlier, an incisive opening spell from Umar Gul had kept Sri Lanka under control for the bulk of their innings, until Mahela Jayawardene sparked a revival in their batting Powerplay. Misbah admitted that Jayawardene's innings turned the momentum of the game.
"We had a chance to keep them to 200, but Mahela played really well," Misbah said. "I think the bowlers did a great job, but altogether it was a bad day for us. The way Umar Gul bowled in his first spell, he was unlucky not to get wickets.
"Sometimes like today you may be bowling well, but the batting was good and some fielding lapses cost us. It is something we have to control in the future."
The Sri Lanka captain Tillakaratne Dilshan was also thankful to Jayawardene for his contribution to the series-levelling win. "Mahela is a very experienced player, and his partnership with Upul Tharanga was really crucial for us since that's how we got to 230," Dilshan said. "Mahela had struggled for the last few days with his knee, but yesterday he told me not to worry, and that he was ready to play with pain. It showed his character and how tough he is.
"We needed this win. Everyone played very good cricket. I got a start but threw my wicket. We needed to get a start and we got that. We planned for 240 but we were short by about 20 runs. The bowlers did a great job. We are relieved. This win was very much needed and now the series is open and we hope to play this type of cricket in the remaining matches."
The third game of the five-match series will be played on Friday, also in Dubai.