Hambantota: Sri Lanka put on a brilliant bowling and fielding performance to post a comfortable 37-run victory over Pakistan in their opening Twenty20 international on Friday.
Pakistan were bowled out for 95, their lowest T20 total against Sri Lanka, after restricting the hosts to 132 for 7 in Hambantota. Sri Lankan pacemen Nuwan Kulasekera, Angelo Mathews and Lasith Malinga and debutant off-spinner Sachithra Senanayake took two wickets apiece after Man-of-the-Match Thisara Perera scored a crucial 32 not out.
Opener Ahmed Shehzad top-scored for Pakistan with 36, while the extras contributed 19 runs, the second-highest of the innings. Umar Akmal (12) was the other batsman to reach double-figures. Pakistan never recovered after losing two wickets off the first two balls of the innings, with Kulasekera removing skipper Mohammad Hafeez and debutant Shakeel Ansar.
The Sri Lankan bowlers were backed by their fielders, with Perera and Kulasekera each taking a superb catch. Left-arm paceman Sohail Tanvir earlier grabbed three big wickets as Pakistan restricted Sri Lanka. He jolted the top order when he dismissed skipper Mahela Jayawardene, Tillakaratne Dilshan and Kumar Sangakkara in his opening three overs to reduce the hosts to 31 for 3. Tanvir finished with 3 for 12 off four tight overs, his best performance in Twenty20 internationals, while off-spinner Saeed Ajmal bagged two wickets for 20 runs.
Perera smashed two sixes and as many fours in his 16-ball knock to help his team make 43 runs off the last 22 balls. Lahiru Thirimanne, making his T20 debut, was the other main scorer with a 25-ball 30. Sri Lanka made a poor start after electing to bat, losing four wickets in the opening eight overs with just 39 on the board. Tanvir struck with his third delivery when he had Jayawardene caught by Shoaib Malik in the covers and then had Dilshan caught by Umar Gul at fine-leg in his next over.
Sangakkara (19) hit three successive fours off paceman Mohammad Sami before he inside-edged a Tanvir delivery onto his stumps. The second and final Twenty20 match will be played on Sunday.