Wicketkeeper-batsman Mushfiqur Rahim's unbeaten, match-winning half-century inspired Bangladesh to return to winning ways in the Nidahas T20I tri-nation series. Bangladesh recorded their highest ever successful chase by posting 215 runs on the board to win by five wickets against host Sri Lanka in Colombo's R Premadasa Cricket Stadium Saturday. The Tigers’ 164-run chase against the West Indies during the 2007 World T20 was their previous highest successful pursuit. The chase was also the fourth highest successful chase in the history of T20Is.
Going in to chase the mammoth total, Bangladesh needed an extraordinary start, which was provided by openers Tamim Iqbal and Liton Das. Liton had come up the order in place of Soumya Sarkar and the move worked wonders as the openers got the Tigers off to a flying start. The openers registered 74 – the Tigers’ highest for the first wicket and Bangladesh’s second best score in the first powerplay. The partnership surpassed the previous best of 71, between Imrul Kayes and Soumya Sarkar, at the same venue when the Tigers toured Sri Lanka last year while the best powerplay - 76 - had come against New Zealand in 2013.
Liton departed scoring 43 off 19 deliveries, putting Tamim in charge of the show. Tamim added 47 in 29 balls before getting dismissed in the 10th over. Later, it was Mushfiq's unbeaten 72 that steered Bangladesh to the shore and keep the competition for a final place open for all the three teams. Mushfiq first put on a 51-run stand for the third wicket with Soumya, followed by a 42-run partnership with stand-in captain Mahmudullah.
The Tigers’ first international win since January however, came after a horrendous bowling display on a flat track which allowed the opposition to score 214 losing six wickets in their stipulated 20 overs.
Bangladesh's decision to field first went horribly wrong. Opener Kusal Mendis and the sizzling Kusal Perera struck merciless fifties to enable the home side surpass their best total against Bangladesh - 210 in Sylhet. Sri Lanka’s 214 is also their third highest total in the shortest format of the game.
The Tigers had come into the game with an unchanged squad from their previous game against India a couple of days ago at the same venue. The match was delayed by 15 minutes due to rain that had started pouring over Colombo since afternoon.
But the locals understand their weather well and by the time the Sri Lanka openers took to the crease, the stands at R Premadasa were already filled to the brim.
And as it were, it took only the second ball of the innings for Sri Lanka to get the home crowd on their feet. With right-arm pacer Taskin Ahmed bowling, the host of the tri-series scored 13 runs off the first over as Mendis smashed a four off the second ball and a six off the last.
This clearly showed the batsmen’s intention as the Lankans got to 30 runs in the first three overs against the three pacers – Taskin, Rubel Hossain and Mustafizur Rahman - and by the end of the first powerplay, Sri Lanka had romped to 70 despite losing opener Danushka Gunathilaka following a 19-ball 26 and a 56-run opening stand. Taskin had conceded 33 runs in his first two overs while Mustafizur bled 22.
Sri Lanka’s charge was then briefly checked as Bangladesh introduced Mehedi Hasan Miraz in the seventh over that went for only three runs. But this was just the calm before the storm as Mendis stepped on the gas, making a quick 30-ball 57 with two boundaries and five over boundaries before Mahmudullah removed him in the 14th over to break a 85-run partnership for the second wicket. It was upto Kusal then to continue the action.
Kusal cantered to his second consecutive half-century in the series, registering a 74 off just 48 deliveries with eight fours and two hits which went over the rope. No 5 batsman Upul Tharanga remained unbeaten on a 15-ball 32 to set Bangladesh batsmen a grueling target to chase.
Just when it was being said the Bangladesh bowlers had turned around following impressive performance in the previous game, the side faced humiliation. The three pacers Taskin, Mustafizur and Rubel conceded 40, 48 and 45 runs respectively.
215/5 in 19.4 overs (Mushfiq 72*, Tamim 47) beat Sri Lanka
214/6 (Kusal 74, Mendis 57) by five wickets