Ban vs Sri Lanka – Srilanka won their Asia Cup opener by five wickets against Bangladesh thanks to Charith Asalanka and Sadeera Samarawickrama’s fifty. The result puts Sri Lanka in the Super 4, while Bangladesh must beat Afghanistan.
Asalanka, who had been struggling, scored 62 off 92 deliveries to win on a two-paced Pallekele track against a Bangladesh bowling team that gave nothing away.
Sri Lanka were 43 for 3 with 165 to score as Asalanka joined Samarawickrama in the middle. Dimuth Karanuratne had earlier played over Taskin Ahmed’s full in-ducker and Kusal Mendis had been castled by Shakib Al Hasan’s arm ball. Between, Pathum Nissanka cut and stole a short, broad one from Shoriful Islam.
Early wickets are vital when defending a low score, and Bangladesh felt they were in the game, but Sri Lanka had Samarawickrama, the guy they needed.
After three early wickets, Charith Asalanka and Sadeera Samarawickrama restarted the pursuit.
At No. 4, Samarawickrama kept the scoreboard ticking. He demonstrated his purpose with back-to-back boundaries against Taskin, including a stunning cover drive, but wickets forced him to play more as an accumulator.
Once Asalanka joined him, they were comfortable to push for singles and play dot balls when needed without scoreboard pressure. Samarawickrama escaped any pressure with two fours off Shakib in the 19th over.
The two put up 78 before Samarawickrama was stumped off Mahedi Hasan, but the chase was well underway. After Dhananjaya de Silva’s stumps were disturbed by Shakib, Sri Lankan nerves rose, but Dasun Shanaka joined Asalanka at the crease to finish the chase.
Bangladesh will contemplate what may have been, particularly after they failed to bat out 50 overs. Nurul Hossain Shanto’s brave 89 was the only resistance against Sri Lanka’s bowlers, who knocked Bangladesh out for 164.
Matheesha Pathirana’s career-best 4 for 32 and Maheesh Theekshana’s two capped his Asia Cup debut. Dhananjaya and Dunith Wellalage’s right-arm- and left-arm-spin combo rifled through the middle overs, never allowing batters to score freely and allowing skipper Shanaka to hold back on reintroducing Theekshana and Pathirana.
Matheesha Pathirana scored a career-best 4 for 32.
Matheesha Pathirana scored a career-best 4 for 32.•Getty Images
Sri Lanka were one strike bowler short without Wanindu Hasaranga, making this vital. On this challenging surface, Sri Lanka’s bowlers maintained strong lines and lengths and never let Bangladesh bat for long.
After Theekshana and Dhananjaya had dismissed openers Tanzid Hasan and Mohammed Naim cheaply, Shakib gloved Pathirana behind in the 11th over to leave Bangladesh 36 for 3.
Bangladesh eventually sought to come back into the game with Shanto and Towhid Hridoy’s 59, but the pressure from the middle overs caught up. Shanaka ran DRS and advanced Hridoy lbw.
Mushfiqur Rahim and Shanto shared 32 for the fifth wicket, but Rahim holed out to deep third after a classic trick of two full deliveries and a short one.
After Mushfiqur left, no other Bangladeshi batter could keep Shanto company as Pathirana and Theekshana swept the bottom order. Except for Shanto, only Hridoy reached 20 and just two hitters reached double digits.