A lackluster effort with bowling and fielding saw Bangladesh concede a five-wicket defeat to Sri Lanka in their Twenty20 World Cup Super 12 opener on Sunday at Sharjah in United Arab Emirates (UAE).
Charith Asalanka, playing only his fifth T20 game, scripted the dominating victory as the Sri Lanka reached the winning target of 172 with seven balls to spare after Bangladesh put up a respectable 171-4.
Asalanka was not out on 80 0ff 49, smacking five fours and as many sixes for his first fifty plus score in this format. He and Bhanuka Rajapakse who blasted 53 off 31 with three fours and same number of sixes, put on a 86 off just 52 deliveries to take the game away, when Bangladesh sensed a victory, reducing the Lankans to 79-4 in 9.4 overs.
During their partnership, Bangladesh made some strategic mistakes and also dropped two vital catches of those two batters. On both occasions, Liton Das was the fielder who put down the catch of Rajapakse for 14 and Asalanka for 63.
At the same time, Mahmudullah Riyad’s decision to bowl two overs with part time bowlers in the middle overs hurt Bangladesh badly. In those two overs-13th and 14th-bowld by Afif Hossain and Mahmudullah himself, Sri Lanka took 31 runs that effectively titled the match towards them. Whereas Shakib Al Hasan and Mustafizur Rahman had then five overs left. That strategic mistake also cost the game.
Moreover power-hitting played a role in the game with Sri Lanka smashing nine sixes, compared to Bangladesh’s two in the completely benign pitch.
But Bangladesh for the first time in the tournament had a convincing batting performance. Riding on the half-century of Mushfiqur Rahim and opener Naim Sheikh, Bangladesh compiled a respectable total.
Naim sheikh hit 62 off 52, smashing six fours while Mushfiqur Rahim, who was instrumental in keeping the side in good stead in the middle overs, blasted an unbeaten 57 off 37, clobbering five fours and two sixes.
Bangladesh though were asked to bat first got a decent start for the first time in this World Cup with their openers Liton Das and Naim Sehikh combining for a 40-run partnership.
The partnership was broken in the penultimate delivery of the first powerplay when Liton picked up mid-off, trying to clear the boundary.
But as he was walking off, the bowler Lahiru Kumara exchanged some words that Liton clearly didn’t like and in the process, the two was involved in verbal spat and there was also some physical contact. It needed others intervention to separate those two players.
In form Shakib then came into the crease but couldn’t make any impact this time as Chamika Karunaratne uprooted his stump with a modest delivery after he scored just 10.
But out of form Mushfiqur Rahim gave Bangladesh the sigh of relief when it looked Sri Lanka put them in control.
With caution and aggression, Mushfiqur and Naim kept Sri Lanka bowlers in pressure and rotated the scoreboard with good pace.
Naim Sheikh brought up his second half-century in his last three matches, with a straight drive over Lahiru Kumara’s head for a boundary off 44 balls.
He however was dismissed after giving Binura Fernando a return catch-a dismissal that ended a brilliant 73-run partnership between him and Mushfiqur.
While Naim was little slow in his approach, Mushfiqur Rahim found the gap in regular intervals to milk boundaries in almost every overs.
Mushfiqur completed his sixth T20 half-century off just 32 balls, chipping Lahiru Kumara’s delivery to long-on for four and in doing so, he stabbed off his off form in the crucial game for Bangladesh.
The diminutive man was key in helping Bangladesh pile up 53 runs in the last five overs. But the most important aspect was Bangladesh could give a good drive for runs in the middle overs unlike the other matches, scoring 99 runs in the last 10 overs. And here Mushfiqur also played a pivotal role.
Karunaratne, Fernando and Kumara grabbed one wicket apiece for Sri Lanka.
Nasum Ahmed, playing his first World Cup gave Bangladesh an immediate breakthrough, getting rid of Kusal Perera for 1 in the fourth ball of the first over, much to the elation of the fans.
Nonetheless Charith Asalanka and Pathum Nissanka made Bangladesh shivering down the spine with a free flowing batting. The former was more attacking, hitting Bangladeshi bowlers out of the park and kept the asking run rate in control
When it looked Sri Lanka took the full control of the match, Shakib’s double strike swung the momentum as he rattled the stump of Nissanka (24) and Avishka Fernando (0) in consecutive deliveries. Those two wickets made Shakib the highest wicket-taker in T20 World Cup with 41 wickets, eclipsing Shaheed Afridi’s 39 wickets.
Mohammad Saifuddin then further troubled Sri Lanka with change of pace that baffled Wanindu Hasarang for 6.
But Bangladesh then let the match slip from the hands with Asalanka and Rajapakse showing their big hitting prowess to leave the Tigers in tatter. Rajapakse was dismissed by Nasum in the 18th over when the side was seven runs away from the victory. Asalanka however fitting signed off the game with an outside-edged boundary.