Sri Lanka needed kingpin bowler Lasith Malinga to deliver a match-winning spell to avoid an embarrassing defeat to the United Arab Emirates in the second match of the Asia Cup in Mirpur on Thursday.
Malinga, who is arguably the best T20 bowler in world cricket, claimed four for 25 in four overs while fellow seamer Nuwan Kulasekara took three for 10 for the 1996 world champions, who won by 14 runs defending a target of 130.
The 32 year-old Malinga, who is also Sri Lanka's captain in the shortest format, started the rot in the very first over of the second innings taking two wickets.
Kulasekara then followed up his skipper by also claiming two wickets in the fourth over as the UAE slipped to 16 for four after four overs.
Wicketkeeper Swapnil Patil (37) tried to put up fight for the Associate nation but he received no support from his teammates as he fell to Malinga with just over three overs remaining to virtually seal the contest.
Sri Lanka's veteran left-arm spinner Rangana Herath also chipped in with two for 22 but they know they have to improve drastically if they want to challenge India or Pakistan for the title.
Earlier, the UAE bowlers did well to restrict their more experienced neighbours to 129 for eight in 20 overs after a solid start, being 68 for none after nine overs.
UAE skipper Amjad Javed led the attack as he took three for 25 in four overs while Dinesh Chandimal scored exactly 50 for Sri Lanka, off 39 balls.
The third match of the tournament takes place on Friday with the UAE in action again, this time against hosts Bangladesh at the same venue.