By Shahid Hashmi


Colombo: Feb 27, 2011


Captain Kumar Sangakkara was at a loss to explain why Sri Lanka had never beaten Pakistan in seven matches in World Cups.


Sri Lankan skipper Kumar Sangakkara said the loss of Mahela Jayawardene and opener Tillakaratne Dilshan at a crucial stage of the match against Pakistan was a crucial factor in his team s defeat. Pakistan held their nerve to record a narrow 11-run win over the fancied home team in Colombo, leaving a sell-out crowd of 35,000 at R. Premadasa stadium bitterly disappointed.


Sri Lanka, chasing a target of 278 runs to win the match were cruising at 76-0 before losing four wickets in the space of 20 runs, with Pakistan skipper Shahid Afridi taking two and paceman Shoaib Akhtar one.


Afridi bowled well, said Sangakkara. But Shoaib (Akhtar) getting Mahela and Afridi getting Dilshan was critical. That gave them the momentum and unfortunately that turned the match in their favour.


Jayawardene, who made a polished century in Sri Lanka s convincing 210-run win against Canada in their opening match, scored just two, while Dilshan departed after making 41. Afridi finished with 4-34, also reaching the milestone of 300 ODI wickets during the match, while Akhtar grabbed 2-42.


Sri Lanka had bowled with discipline at the end of the Pakistan innings to restrict them to 277-7 after Misbah-ul-Haq (83 not out) and Younis Khan (72) put them on track for a 300-plus total. It s pretty disappointing to be 10 runs short at the end, but I think we did pretty well to restrict them to 277 and the start we got, the foundation was good enough for us to kick on but losing four wickets changed things, said Sangakkara.


Sangakkara (49) and Chamara Silva (57), coming back to the team after missing the first match because of the death of his sister, raised hopes of an unlikely win but in the end Sri Lanka fell short.


I think Chamara was a bit slow at the start, but then when he got set I think he scored very freely, said the Sri Lankan captain. Sangakkara praised his spin attack, saying (Rangana) Herath and (Muttiah) Muralitharan were outstanding and the quick bowlers came back well.


Sangakkara was at a loss to explain why Sri Lanka had never beaten Pakistan in seven matches in World Cups. I wish I had the answer and that s something we were looking at and to change that, but we couldn t, he said.