Lasith Malinga and Nuwan Kulasekara shared seven wickets between them to save the blushes of Sri Lanka as they defeated the UAE by 14 runs in their first match of the Asia Cup in Dhaka on Thursday.
Captain Malinga grabbed 4-26 while Kulasekara picked up 3-10 as the islanders successfully defended a below par score of 129-8, restricting the UAE to 115-9 at the Sher-e-Bangla National Stadium.
Skipper Amjad Javed claimed 3-25 to lead a spirited UAE attack as the fancied Sri Lankans collapsed from a respectable 68-0 to a modest total that raised the prospect of an upset.
But Malinga and Kulasekara put the result beyond any doubt with fiery opening spells.
Malinga struck twice in the very first over playing his first match since he injured his knee during Sri Lanka's home series against the West Indies last year.
Kulasekara, who also made a comeback after missing the recent series in India, complemented his skipper with a double strike in his second over to leave the UAE wobbling at 16-4.
Indian origin Swapnil Patil provided some resistance with 37 off 36 balls before Malinga returned in his second spell to see off the threat.
"I have still not fully recovered," Malinga said after the match.
"I wanted to play this match and help other players and show them you can do whatever the team needs," he said.
Earlier, Sri Lanka made a promising start as Dinesh Chandimal and Tillakaratne Dilshan put on a fifty partnership in the opening stand before they found going tough against some disciplined Emirates bowling.
Medium pacer Amjad forced a catch from Dilshan (27) at midwicket to break the partnership and then added Milinda Siriwardana and Chandimal to his tally to trigger the collapse.
Chandimal made 50 runs for Sri Lanka facing 39 balls but fell to the next ball after he reached the milestone.
His second Twenty20 fifty in 35 matches included seven fours and a six.
UAE skipper Amjad took positives from their bowling performance despite the loss.
"The whole game was excellent," he said. "We put them [Sri Lanka] under pressure with the bowling.
"It was a big setback to lose two wickets to Malinga in the first over. Then we lost two more wickets and it is always difficult to chase."
Mohammad Naveed and Mohammad Shahzad followed the good work of their captain to take two wickets each and stemmed the Sri Lankan run-flow.
The UAE will face hosts Bangladesh in their next match on Friday.
Lasith Malinga returning from an injury lay-off claimed four for 26 to spearhead Sri Lanka to a 14-run win over a gallant UAE in Match 2 of the Asia Cup T20 at Mirpur on Thursday.
Chasing a modest target of 130, UAE never recovered after Malinga blows in the first over to finish on 115-9 thanks to valiant stand of 38 between Swapnil Patil (37) and skipper Amjad Javed (13).
Lanka put into bat were restricted to 129-8 with Javed claiming three for 25 while Chandimal top scored with 50..
Malinga claims his fourth wicket. UAE 99-9, 18.5 overs.
Mohammad Naveed c Mathews b Malinga 10 (10b 1x4)
Javed falls holing Kulasekera to long off. UAE 93-8, 17.4 overs.
Amjad Javed c Kapugedera b Kulasekara 13 (18b)
Malinga breaks the fighting partnership taking a good return catch from Patil. UAE 85-7, 16.3 overs.
Swapnil Patil c & b Malinga 37 (36b 3x4 2x6)
Patil gets two consecutive boundaries beginning with an imperious pull shot to midwicket off Chameera followed another similar shot. UAE 77-6, 15 overs.
Swapnil steers Siriwardana to third man for a delightful boundary. UAE 63-6, 13 overs.
Haider perishes attempting to swing Herath out of the only to give a skier to Chandimal.UAE 47-6, 9.5 overs.
Saqlain Haider c Chandimal b Herath 1 (9b)
Swapnil uses his dancing shoes to Herath over long off for a six.
Herath gets the big wicket of Anwar who is caught behind. UAE 38-5, 7.5 overs.
Shaiman Anwar c Chandimal b Herath 13 (15b 2x4)
Patil slams Mathews over backward square leg for a majestic six. UAE 36-4, 7 overs.
Anwar shows his class with a couple of exquisite boundaries off Mathews. UAE 24-4, 5 overs.
Double strike by Kulasekera as Kaleem edges to slip. UAE 16-4, 3.5 overs.
Muhammad Usman c Kapugedera b Kulasekara 6 (9b 1x4)
Kulasekera strikes as Kaleem fails to clear the infield. UAE 14-3, 3.2 overs.
Muhammad Kaleem c Mathews b Kulasekara 7 (11b)
Usman hits the first boundary for UAE clipping Kulasekera to midwicket. UAE 12-2, 3 overs.
Kaleem survives after Siriwardana drops an edge at slip as Kulasekera begins with a maiden. UAE 7-2, 2 overs.
Malinga is on fire getting a double castling Shahzad. UAE 7-2, 1 over.
Mohammad Shahzad b Malinga 1 (2b)
Malinga strikes with his first delivery trapping Mustafa leg before. UAE 0-1, 0.1 over.
Rohan Mustafa lbw b Malinga 0 (1b)
Sri Lanka innings
Sri Lanka have been restricted to 129-8 after being 68 for no loss at one stage with Javed claiming three for 24 and Shahzad and Naveed snaring two apiece.
Chandimal top scored with 39-ball 50 stroking seven boundaries and a six.
Kulasekera is out for the last ball as Sri Lanka are restricted to 129-8 after being put into bat.
Nuwan Kulasekara c Patil b Mohammad Shahzad 7 (7b 1x4)
The Sri Lanka procession continues as Kapugedera perishes. SL 123-7, 19.1 overs.
Chamara Kapugedera c Ahmed Raza b Mohammad Shahzad 10 (11b)
Jayasuriya attempting to a repeat a scoop sees his stumps being knocked over by Naveed. SL 113-6, 17.3 overs.
Shehan Jayasuriya b Mohammad Naveed 10 (7b 2x4)
Raza returns and gets the big wicket of Mathews trapping him leg before. SL 105-5, 16.1 overs.
Angelo Mathews lbw b Rohan Mustafa 8 (9b)
Jayasuriya glides Naveed past backward point for the first boundary after 49 balls. SL 105-4, 16 overs.
Sri Lanka are struggling with the pace of the wicket as Shanaka falls to Naveed. SL 98-4, 15.2 overs.
Dasun Shanaka c Shaiman Anwar b Mohammad Naveed 5 (11b)
Mathews survives as Amjad Javed completes an excllent spell returning figures of 4-0-25-3. SL 92-3, 14 overs.
Chandimal departs soon after completing a fine half century failing to clear Javed with a fierce pull shot. SL 89-3, 13.2 overs.
Dinesh Chandimal c Mohammad Shahzad b Amjad Javed 50 (39b 7x4 1x6)
Double blow for Lanka as Siriwardana perishes being undone by the bounce of Javed. SL 79-2, 11.1 overs.
Milinda Siriwardana c Saqlain Haider b Amjad Javed 6 (7b)
Javed draws first blood getting rid of Dilshan who never looked comfortable. SL 68-1, 9.1 overs.
Tillakaratne Dilshan c Muhammad Usman b Amjad Javed 27 (27b 4x4)
Boundaries are coming thick and fast off the blades of Dilshan and Chandimal. SL 65-0, 8 overs.
Chandimal survives a confident leg before appeal off left arm spinner Raza. SL 51-0, 7 overs.
UAE skipper Javed comes into the attack and Chandimal cracks a couple of boundaries on either side of the wicket. SL 42-0, 5 overs.
Chandimal flays Qadeer for a six and boundary. SL 31-0, 4 overs.
Dilshan gets into his stride by cracking three boundaries off Naveed. SL 19-3, 3 overs.
Chandimal hits the first boundary of the match flicking Qadeer to backward square leg. SL 7-0, 2 overs
Sri Lanka have opened with Chandimal and Dilshan.
Sri Lanka: Shehan Jayasuriya, TM Dilshan, Dinesh Chandimal, Angelo Mathews, Milinda Siriwardana, Chamara Kapugedera, D Shanaka, Nuwan Kulasekara, Rangana Herath, Lasith Malinga, Dushmantha Chameera
UAE: Rohan Mustafa, Muhammad Kaleem, Mohammad Shahzad, Muhammad Usman, Shaiman Anwar, Amjad Javed, Saqlain Haider, Swapnil Patil, Qadeer Ahmed, Ahmed Raza, Mohammad Naveed
UAE win toss and opt to bowl against Sri Lanka in the second match of the Asia Cup T20 at Mirpur on Thursday.
UAE are confident of causing an upset when they take on Sri Lanka in the second match of the Asia Cup T20 at Sher-e-Bangla Stadium in Mirpur on Thursday.
The new-look Emirati side raised eyebrows by qualifying for their third Asia Cup with stunning victories over Afghanistan, Hong Kong and Oman.
“We think we have a chance, an outside chance, against all the big teams, simply because in T20s, a couple of early wickets, a few good overs with the bat, and you can win,” said Amjad Javed, the UAE captain, on the eve of the match.
UAE may not be a match for the reigning World T20 champions on paper but Sri Lanka are no longer a force to be reckoned ever since stalwarts Mahela Jayawardena and Kumar Sangakkara retired.
The Emirati side have shown that it is a level-playing when it comes to T20 cricket beating Scotland and Ireland before travelling to Bangladesh.
“We feel confident, because we have beaten Scotland, Ireland and now Afghanistan. So our plans are falling in place. It’s an experience for us here, an education, and we have nothing to lose. So we’ll give it our best,” added Amjad.
Rohan Mustafa’s all-round show inspired UAE to a 16-run victory over Afghanistan in the opening match of the Asia Cup qualifiers in Fatullah.
The 27-year-old opener and offspinner, slammed a 50-ball 77 and claimed for 3 for 19 to stun Afghanistan.
Mohammad Naveed’s three-wicket haul and Mohammad Shahzad’s 52 helped UAE down Hong Kong by six wickets before thrashing Oman by 71 runs.
Mohammad Shahzad and Muhammad Usman while Mohammad Naveed has impressed with the ball.
UAE will be hoping their star middle-order batsman Shaiman Anwar, would fire in the main competition.
Sri Lanka will be boosted by the return of Lasith Malinga and Angelo Mathews, who were rested for the T20 series against India which they lost 2-1.
Sri Lanka: Lasith Malinga (capt), Angelo Mathews, Dushmantha Chameera, Dinesh Chandimal, Niroshan Dickwella, Tillakaratne Dilshan, Rangana Herath, Shehan Jayasuriya, Chamara Kapugedara, Nuwan Kulasekara, Thisara Perera, Sachithra Senanayake, Dasun Shanaka, Milinda Siriwardena, Jeffrey Vandersay.
UAE: Amjad Javed (capt), Ahmed Raza, Fahad Tariq, Farhan Ahmed, Mohammad Naveed, Mohammad Shahzad, Muhammad Kaleem, Muhammad Usman, Swapnil Patil, Qadeer Ahmed, Rohan Mustafa, Saqlain Haider, Shaiman Anwar, Usman Mushtaq, Zaheer Maqsood.