Trevor Bayliss, the Sri Lanka coach, has said the turning point in his side's 146-run loss to Pakistan in the fourth ODI was the dismissal of Chamara Kapugedera to a diving, one-handed catch by Naved-ul-Hasan.
Sri Lanka were threatening to push Pakistan hard despite facing a mammoth target of 322, reaching 157 for 3 in the 30th over, but their resistance melted away after Kapugedera's exit; the last seven wickets going down for 17 runs.
"We were going along pretty well up until the stage when Naved took a stunning catch falling backwards to remove Kapugedera," Bayliss said. "We set ourselves a few targets and we were right on schedule but unfortunately we lost too many wickets around about that time. This wicket gets difficult to play on the longer the game goes and it makes it difficult for the new batters coming in to start and get into the groove."
The coach said that fast bowler Lasith Malinga's fitness to play in the fifty-over game needs to be reassessed. Malinga sent down 26 wides out of 29 conceded by his team. "We got him in the team to try and bring him back after injury and try and rest him in some matches," Bayliss said. "We brought him back through the Twenty20 when he had four-over spells, now we are trying to step it up a little bit to get him to bowl 10-over spells. He's got a little bit of work to do on his fitness but that's only natural after being out for so long."
Malinga, who was near unplayable in the World Twenty20 in England, went for 79 runs in his ten overs without taking a wicket and came in for some harsh treatment from centurion Umar Akmal who hit him for 21 runs in the 46th over.
"Not too many players can hit Malinga the way he did," Bayliss said. "Umar showed some good ability up in Dambulla so we weren't surprised that he can play. He batted extremely well tonight. Looks like he's got a good future in front of him."
Sri Lanka's chase was spearheaded by opener Upul Tharanga who scored his second successive half-century. "Upul looks like he's getting into the swing of things and getting his confidence back. He is starting to time the ball very nicely. He was strong enough to hit one straight for six."
Bayliss said that Sri Lanka will be looking to make a few changes in the last ODI on Sunday in order to give some of the other players a rest. "We had a long program and we got a very busy schedule in front of us. We want to give some guys a bit of a rest in view of the New Zealand Test series and the Champions Trophy. It gives us an opportunity to play some of the guys on the fringes who are trying to make their way into international cricket and get into the team."