x Abu Dhabi, UAEMonday 22 January 2018

Mathews says heroic loss to Pakistan has sparked Sri Lanka

Misbah-ul-Haq hopes Pakistan can correct their sloppy play when they meet Sri Lanka in Dubai on Friday, reports Ahmed Rizvi.

Sri Lanka’s Angelo Mathews, left, appeals a wicket against Pakistan in Sharjah on Wednesday. Francois Nel / Getty Images
Sri Lanka’s Angelo Mathews, left, appeals a wicket against Pakistan in Sharjah on Wednesday. Francois Nel / Getty Images

SHARJAH // Sri Lanka are full of confidence going into Friday night’s second one-day international, despite defeat to Pakistan in Wednesday’s first encounter.

Pakistan earned an 11-run first ODI win in Sharjah, but the Sri Lankan tail-enders gave them a scare in chasing a mammoth, 323-run target.

At 221-7, Seekkuge Prasanna (42) and Sachitra Senanayake (42) put on an 87-run stand for the eighth wicket – a record for Pakistan-Sri Lanka one-days – but fell just short.

“I am extremely happy with the way the boys played,” said Angelo Mathews, the Sri Lanka captain. “I thought we witnessed a brilliant game. Yes, we fell short by a few runs, but it was very pleasing to see the guys fighting till the end.

“The effort that Prasanna and Senanayake put, it was unbelievable. They nearly got us through. So very pleased with the way they batted.”

Buoyed by their battling performance, Mathews expects Sri Lanka to take the turf at the Dubai International Cricket Stadium today for the second ODI with their “heads held high”.

“We need to be positive because we know we performed well, even though we lost,” he said. “The confidence is pretty high in the camp and we just want to continue with the same approach we did in the first game.

“We have got the skills, we have got the talent in the dressing room. We just need to get our minds right and go out there and enjoy ourselves.”

Misbah-ul-Haq, the Pakistan captain, is hoping for a stronger fielding display from his team after some shoddy work at Sharjah allowed the Sri Lankans a few easy boundaries.

“We need some serious improvement in our fielding because when the conditions are not good for the bowling, you really need to support the bowlers through good fielding,” he said. “But I think we were below par and we missed a lot of boundaries at important stages. That could have really cost the team.

“So we really need to improve on our fielding for the next game.”

Misbah saluted the resilience of Mohammad Hafeez after the under-fire batsman’s majestic century.

Misbah had been facing growing calls to bench Pakistan’s Twenty20 captain from the 50-over side after a string of disappointing scores in his seven previous ODIs against South Africa. Hafeez had scores of 28, 26, 15, 33 and 6 in the five-match series in the UAE, which Pakistan lost 4-1.

In the three-match series in South Africa, he scored 5 and 8 before being replaced by Asad Shafiq for the third game.

Misbah said bringing Hafeez back into the XI was a hard call, but few critics will be complaining now after his man-of-the-match performance: a 129-ball 122, which was studded with seven fours and four sixes.

“Hafeez was a really tough decision for us because there has been a lot of criticism,” Misbah said. “Finally, we just decided that this is a different opposition, conditions are good and he is the kind of player who, when he gets going, he can really provide you with match-winning knocks like that.

“So while it was a difficult decision for us, credit goes to Hafeez for the way he played under such intense pressure. That was a really good knock.”