Pakistan are virtually through to the final of the Asia Cup after a bonus point victory over Sri Lanka on Thursday. Pakistan won by six wickets chasing a modest total, skipper Misbah-ul Haq and Umar Akmal stitching together a 152-run partnership after a jittery start. Now if India defeat Bangladesh on Friday, the much anticipated league match between India and Pakistan on Sunday becomes just a battle of pride.
The partnership between Virat Kohli and Gautam Gambhir on Tuesday deserved further admiration after seeing the manner in which Sri Lanka's batting line-up disintegrated.
The Sher-e Bangla Stadium wicket, especially in the first session, demands a lot of patience from batsmen, and Kohli and Gambhir had rotated the strike by pushing into gaps and waited for loose deliveries to hit. Trying to push the pace with flamboyance is not quite the way to go. But having given Sri Lanka a flying start against India, albeit under different conditions, skipper Mahela Jayawardene and Tillakaratne Dilshan opted to continue from where they had left and perished early.
The batsmen who followed too did not take the cue.
“Obviously the bounce isn't there. But the main adjustment needed to bat long here was patience," Kohli had said when asked what adjustments he had to make while batting here after spending close to three months in Australia.
But for a jaded Sri Lanka, playing their second match in three days after a hectic tour of Australia, working hard for runs was asking a little too much. Tiredness overwhelmed patience and the result was being bundled out for 188 in the 46th over, a paltry total under the conditions.
Once again, like in their chase against India, trying to be overambitious in the batting Powerplay unsettled Sri Lanka. They had lost four wickets in a heap in the five overs with field restrictions against India, scoring just 31 runs.
On Thursday, it was worse. Tharanga was bowled through the gate by Saeed Ajmal in the third ball and the Powerplay did not take off. Sri Lanka had to settle for just 13 runs and lost two wickets in the five overs. He and Sangakkara had helped Sri Lanka recover from 65 for four in the 15th over to 158 for four before the 36th when the batting Powerplay was taken.
Sri Lanka began their defence well with three cheap wickets. But with few runs on board, Pakistan did not need to take too many risks, Misbah stayed on till the end to avoid further hiccups.