Marred by injuries, a depleted Lankan bowling attack produced a top quality performance, putting the focus away from the absence of their star bowlers Wanindu Hasaranga and Dushmantha Chameera. The 20-year-old Matheesha Pathirana starred for the co-hosts of the tournament as Bangladesh folded for a lowly 164 in the 43rd over.
While Pathirana stole the show with his four-for, spinners Maheesh Theekshana, Dhananjaya de Silva and Dunith Wellalage too shared four wickets between them in a remarkable overall bowling performance for the last year’s champions (T20 format).
Chasing a below-par total, Sri Lanka did go through a few hiccups but Sadeera’s superb knock of 54 coupled with Asalanka’s stylish unbeaten 62 took the Lankans home in 39 overs and 5 wickets remaining.
As It Happened
Here’s a look at the key moments of the first Group B game between Sri Lanka and Bangladesh.
Bangladesh skipper Shakib-al-Hasan won the toss and opted to bat but his decision backfired immediately as openers Tanzid Hasan and Mohammad Naim got off to an unimpressive start, both walking back inside the first powerplay. The Pallekele Stadium pitch had a bit of carry and bounce but skipper Dasun Shanaka brought on mystery spinner Maheesh Theekshana into the attack second over and he provided the breakthrough immediately, trapping Hasan in front for a two-ball duck. Mohammad Naim did get a start but part-timer Dhananjaya de Silva struck a fourth-ball into his spell, sending Naim back for 16 in the 8th over. Things turned worse for Bangladesh when in the 11th over skipper Shakib (5) departed too as Matheesha Pathirana induced an edge with Kusal Mendis grabbing a superb catch low to his left. At the end of the 11th over, Bangladesh found themselves reeling at 36 for 3.
Regular wickets hurt Bangladesh
After three blows early in the match, Najmul Shanto and Towhid Hridoy managed to arrest the slide, adding 59 runs for the fourth wicket. However, skipper Shanaka successfully managed to break the dangerous-looking stand in the 24th over, getting rid of Hridoy (20) with the help of a review. After the fall of Hridoy, the Lanka bowlers kept on the pressure and choked the Bangladeshi batters for runs. Shanto did hold one end together but there was no substantial support from the other. Around a horrible Mehidy Hasan run out, Bangladesh kept on losing wickets at regular wickets, leaving Shanto waging a lone battle.
Shanto’s valiant effort
With just 4 batters managing double digit scores, Shanto fought alone as Bangladesh never managed to recover from early blows. Facing 122 balls, Shanto’s valiant knock had 7 fours in it but was overshadowed completely by a dull performance from the other batters. Right from the start, Bangladesh run rate hovered below 4 RPO and the regular fall of wickets never allowed them to gain the momentum. Looking to up the ante in the final overs, Shanto departed for 89. Pathirana then wrapped up the tail in no time as Bangladesh folded for a lowly 164 in 42.4 overs.
Bumpy start in chase
Defending a low total, Bangladesh needed early wickets and the pacers went full tilt from the word go, removing the Lanka openers Pathum Nissanka and Dimuth Karunaratne inside the first four overs. After Taskin Ahmed knocked over Karunaratne for 1 in the third over, Shoriful Islam too struck from the other end the following over as Nissanka edged one behind to Mushfiqur Rahim for 14. Skipper Shakib then cleaned up Kusal Mendis for 5 in the final over of the first Powerplay to give Sri Lanka early trouble in the chase.
Composed Samarawickrama and Asalanka stand
After a jittery start to the chase, Sadeera Samarawickrama and Charith Asalanka dug in for the Lankans. The duo first arrested the slide and then dealt with the Bangladeshi spinners with precision and control to get the chase back on track. Despite sharp bounce and occasional turn being offered by the pitch, Samarawickrama and Asalanka played really maturely, stitching a terrific 78-run stand. In the process Sadeera brought up his fifty in the 24th over. But soon after his fifty, Samarawickrama fell in the 30th over. His dismissal was soon followed by Shakib knocking over Dhananjaya de Silva (2) as Bangladesh tried to get back into the game. However, Asalanka along with the skipper ensured no further damage was done. While Asalanka hit an unbeaten 62, Dasun got 14 not out as the Lankans crossed the finish line with 66 balls to spare.