Tigers suffer five-wicket defeat to Sri Lanka

Charith Asalanka’s unbeaten 80 alongside two dropped catches by Liton Das crushed Bangladesh’s hopes of a winning start to the Super 12 stage of the ICC T20 World Cup, with the Tigers suffering a five-wicket defeat to Sri Lanka at the Sharjah Cricket Stadium yesterday.
Bangladesh posted a challenging total of 171 for four in their allotted overs, but some poor captaincy from Mahmudullah Riyad and the opponent’s blistering start with the bat courtesy of Asalanka and Pathum Nissanka adding 54 runs in the Powerplay set the tone.
Charith Asalanka struck an unbeaten 80 off 49 balls and Bhanuka Rajapakse made 53 off 31 balls to take their team to 172-5 in 19 overs.
Both Asalanka and Rajapakse, however, have Liton Das to thank for their innings as he dropped both batters once which allowed them to snatch the win away from Bangladesh.
Shakib Al Hasan was Bangladesh’s best bowler with 2-17 in three overs but the other bowlers let him down.
At the halfway stage of the match, Bangladesh was the happier of the two sides as they posted 171-4 in 20 overs after being sent to bat first.
Mohammad Naim played the anchor role with his innings of 62 off 52 balls while Mushfiqur Rahim remained unbeaten on 57 off 37 balls, his first half-century in T20Is in almost two years, but the happiness didn’t last at the end of the game.
Chasing 172, Sri Lanka lost opener Kusal Perera (one) to Nasum in the very first over.
Asalanka then came to the middle and took the attack to the Bangladeshi spinners from the get go.
Asalanka and Pathum Nissanka (24) added 69 runs in just 45 balls and Sri Lanka looked well on track in their chase, reaching 71-1 after eight overs.
Shakib then brought Bangladesh back in the match by going through the defences of Nissanka and Avishka Fernando (0) in the ninth over and Mohammad Saifuddin dismissed Wanindu Hasaranga (six) in the following over to reduce Sri Lanka to 79-4 in 9.4 overs.
Sri Lanka looked vulnerable after losing three wickets in 10 balls and Bangladesh had the chance to go for the kill.
But Mahmudullah chose to not continue with Shakib and brought himself into the attack, presumably because he didn’t want to use Shakib, a left-arm spinner, against Asalanka and Rajapakse, who were left-handers.
He bowled a cheap 12th over, giving away five runs but Asalanka and Rajapakse scored 31 in the next two overs, 15 off Afif Hossain and 16 off Mahmudullah, which shifted the tide of the match permanently.
But things could’ve been different had Liton grabbed onto Rajapakse’s catch at deep square leg off Afif when he was batting on 14 but the usually reliable fielder misjudged the flight of the ball and let it go over his head and trickle to the boundary ropes.
Liton, who had scored a run-a-ball 16 and entered into a skirmish with pacer Lahiru Kumara after his dismissal, made a second mistake on the field in the 15th over when he dropped Asalanka on 63 off Mustafizur Rahman.
This time Liton came running in from deep cover and got himself underneath the ball but couldn’t pouch the ball.
Sri Lanka needed 46 runs from five overs when Mahmudullah handed the ball to Saifuddin, who got hit for two sixes and two fours by Rajapakse and gave away 22 runs which ended all of Bangladesh’s hopes.
Nasum, who took 2-29 in 2.5 overs, dismissed Rajapakse in the 19th over but Asalanka hit a four of his last ball to finish the match with six balls to spare.
Previously, Liton and Naim gave Bangladesh a 40-run opening stand, their best in the tournament so far.
After Liton’s dismissal and Shakib’s (10) brief stay, Naim and Mushfiq added 73 runs off 51 balls for the third wicket.
Naim departed after scoring his second fifty in the tournament, while Mushfiq carried on till the end to take Bangladesh to a total that looked defendable but in the end proved insufficient.

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