Fatullah (Bangladesh), Feb 26: Sri Lankan captain Angelo Mathews has heaped praise on Lasith Malinga, who played a crucial role in his side's 12-run win over Pakistan in the Asia Cup opener, and said the right-arm fast bowler has been his "go to man" under pressure situations.
Malinga took a brilliant five-wicket haul under pressure after opener Lahiru Thirimanne hit his second ODI century to help Sri Lanka script a thrilling win over Pakistan in their opening match at the Khan Shaheb Osman Ali Stadium.
"Malinga is the best bowler for us and has been in the past few years. Whenever we are under pressure he is our go to man and he did it again," Mathews said at the post-match presentation ceremony.
Asked whether Malinga was underbowled today, Mathews replied: "Well, maybe I'll try to bowl him more."
Malinga produced a sensational spell of death bowling, picking up key wickets at crucial junctures, to ensure the win for his side with seven balls to spare.
Chasing an imposing 297 for victory, Pakistan were on course for a remarkable victory before Malinga came up with a fiery spell to bowl out the 'Men in Green' for 284 in 48.5 overs.
Malinga first sent back dangerman Shahid Afridi (4) and well-settled skipper Misbah-ul-Haq (73) in a span of three deliveries in his eighth over before returning back to dismiss Saeed Ajmal (10) and Bilawal Bhatti (18) in his final over to finish with figures of 5 for 52.
Mathews felt Sri Lanka were little short of their target considering the start they got today.
"I still think we were 20 runs short considering the start (Lahiru) Thirimanne and (Kumar) Sangakkara gave us," he said.
"But in the past we've won these close games and it was good to come out on top again."
Even though Malinga, who was adjudged man-of-the-match, conceded that he was not at his best today, he said did enough to secure the win for Sri Lanka.
"At the moment, I not bowling at good rhythm but I am really happy to take the five wickets. In the last two games and the first half of today's game, I didn't bowl too well," he said.
"But I used my variations and at the end we won the game. There was not much dew today and I concentrated on my variations, slower balls, bouncers and at the end of the day, I am very happy we won the game."
Meanwhile, Pakistan skipper Misbah-ul-Haq felt with he himself and Umar Akmal going strong at 242 for four in the 43rd over, they should have won the match.
"I think Umar (Akmal) batted really well, that was a crucial partnership. At that time we had six wickets in hand and we should have won this game," Misbah said.
"He (Akmal) played a really sensible knock today but played a rash shot and could not finish it," he said.
"After the start they (Sri Lanka) got, it was a really good effort to restrict them to 296. The way the pitch was playing, no turn nothing for the fast bowler. This should have been chased."