Having been reduced to 3-1 in their first Aussie Cricket League clash against India, it was a horrid case of déjà vu for Sri Lanka as the scoreboard read 2-0 after two overs.
But Vinu Mohotty (40 off 31 balls) and Kalhan Sineth (52 off 46) had other ideas, setting about rebuilding the Sri Lankan innings with hard running and considered strokeplay.
Sri Lanka XI coach Bathiya Perera credited Mohotty’s innings as particularly crucial.
“It wasn’t a perfect start with two maidens and losing two wickets, but Vinu Mohotty gave us the momentum, and that momentum carried through until the very end… we’ll take 155 on that wicket,” Perera said.
The coach also revealed half-centurion Sineth, who came in at four, was originally meant to bat at 10.
“Because we lost two quick wickets we pushed the main batters down and promoted him, and him being a left hander just helps to upset the bowler’s rhythm,” Perera explained.
“It worked and he got 52 and won player of the match as well.”
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Sanitha De Mel (21* off 12) closed the Sri Lankan innings strongly, as they finished with 7-155 from their 20 overs, a total that would prove nine runs too many for Pakistan.
Sohail Sadiq, Abdul Haseeb and Muhammad Ismail all lead the way for the Pakistani bowlers, claiming two wickets apiece.
With runs on the board, Sri Lanka opted for the left-field tactic of opening the bowling with spin from both ends.
“We thought these guys liked pace on, so we tried something different, and it worked,” Perera said.
“Unfortunately with the squad we picked we had quite a few fast bowlers, but playing so much cricket in the last six weeks three guys have gone down with injuries.
“So it was probably more of a tactical move using the spinners more, but also managing the fast bowlers as best we could.”
Having been restricted for the first two overs, Haseeb Quereshi (15 off 17) and Babar Nadeem (20 off 12) began to find the boundary, racing to 0-26 after four.
Nadeem launched Mohotty (1-34 off 4) for a maximum, but was caught in the deep next ball.
Yashan Samarasinghe ran Quereshi out an over later, bringing two new batsmen in Yousaf Iqbal (15) and Bilal Quereshi (10) to the crease.
The pair kept the scoreboard ticking over, before again falling in quick succession.
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With time of the essence, Moshin Abbas and Abdul Haseeb (20* off 18) got to work keeping Pakistan alive.
Abbas would finish with a magnificent 31-ball 51 that included two sixes and four boundaries, Praveen Dilanka the one to claim his pivotal scalp with the final ball of the 19th over.
Sri Lanka XI skipper Ruwantha Kellepotha (2-26 off four) was entrusted with bowling the final over, and had 19 runs to play with.
Umair Butt managed to launch a slog sweep for six off the first ball he faced, but it was too little too late as Pakistan finished with 7-146 from their 20 overs, falling nine runs short.
Sri Lankan coach Perera was “delighted with the win, especially after the loss in the first game.”
“We didn’t change much with the plan, it was more the execution that we focused on improving, and it was a huge improvement in terms of how we approached the first half of the game.”