Bangladesh gave the game away due to slippery hands of fielders as the Lankan batsmen gradually became ruthless
Sri Lankan pair Charith Asalanka and Bhanuka Rajapaksa crushed a high-flying Bangladesh in their opening game of the Super 12 stage of the ongoing T20 World Cup Sunday at Sharjah Cricket Stadium.
With the defeat, Bangladesh’s search for their maiden win in the Super 12s of the competition remained an illusion as they swallowed the bitter five-wicket defeat in the match that was expected to be the easiest in a very tough group.
The defeat shattered high hopes of Bangladesh supporters, which was strengthened by half-centuries from Mohammad Naim and Mushfiqur Rahim.
Bangladesh, despite posting a match winning total on a deck that behaved slow and low, gave the game away largely due to slippery hands of fielders, thus giving reprieves to the Lankan batsmen who became ruthless during the latter stage of the chase.
Chasing 172 runs, Sri Lanka reached the shore with seven balls to spare as newbie Asalanka remained unbeaten on 80 while Rajapaksa was instrumental with his 53 to leave Bangladesh in frustration.
Perhaps the turning point of the game was when Liton Das misjudged a simple catch of Rajapaksa, going backwards at deep square leg off the bowling of Afif Hossain in the third ball of the 13th over.
Rajapaksa was on 14 and Sri Lanka needed 74 off 46 balls with six wickets in hand.
Just an over later Liton dropped another simple catch, this time of Asalanka when the latter was on 63.
Asalanka, playing only his fifth T20I, had lofted a straightforward catch in the extra cover region off the bowling of Mustafizur Rahman.
Assessing the condition, Bangladesh had gone spin heavy bringing in left-arm spinner Nasum Ahmed in place of pacer Taskin Ahmed.
Nasum in his debut game in the T20 World Cup was on point, removing opener Kusal Perera for one in the fourth ball of the chase.
There were also two wickets from Shakib al Hasan in the ninth over at a time when Sri Lanka looked settled.
The efforts however paled in comparison to what came from Asalanka and Rajapaksa as the duo produced 86 off 52 deliveries for the fifth wicket.
Rajapaksa, who had a fabulous 30th birthday Sunday, made 53 off 31 involving three boundaries and as many over boundaries, and perished in the 19th over to Nasum with Sri Lanka on the brink of victory on 165 for five.
The winning runs for Sri Lanka came off Asalanka’s willow with a boundary as the young sensation left the field not out on 80 off 49 deliveries laced with five boundaries and as many over boundaries.
Earlier, Bangladesh had lost the toss and were sent to bat first, something Mahmudullah informed he would have chosen if he had won the toss.
On the slow and low surface, Bangladesh dealt the first six overs scoring 41 runs and lost Liton on 16.
Shakib looked in good touch with the two boundaries but got out for 10 to put Naim and Mushfiq in charge.
Naim and Mushfiq added 73 for the third wicket to boost Bangladesh to a competitive total.
The partnership broke with Naim’s dismissal for a 52-ball 62 involving six boundaries.
The half-century was Naim’s second in the competition, having scored a 64-run innings against Oman in the qualifiers.
Bangladesh in the last five overs of the innings blasted 53 runs as Mushfiq remained unbeaten on a return to form 57 off 37.
The right-handed batsman hammered five boundaries and two over boundaries and the innings came as a statement to the critics who have been harsh due to his prolonged lean patch with the willow in this format.