Charith Asalanka and Bhanuka Rajapaksa shared a partnership of 86 to give Sri Lanka a five-wicket win over Bangladesh in their opening Super 12 match in the Twenty20 World Cup in Sharjah on Sunday.
Asalanka remained unbeaten on 80 from 49 balls and Rajapaksa, celebrating his 30th birthday, hit a 31-ball 53 to help Sri Lanka chase down a 172-run target with seven balls to spare. Put in to bat, Bangladesh posted 171 for four after opening batsman Mohammad Naim anchored the innings with a 52-ball 62 and the experienced Mushfiqur Rahim smashed an unbeaten 57 off 37 balls.
Sri Lanka’s bowlers had done most of the damage in the preliminary round matches and it was left to the batsmen to keep the winning run intact for the 2014 champion. They did not disappoint, left-hander Asalanka providing a fast start to its chase with a knock studded with five fours and five sixes. Sri Lanka was comfortably placed at 71 for 1 after eight overs but Shakib Al Hasan briefly turned the game in Bangladesh’s favour with two wickets in four balls.
Asalanka and Rajapaksa got Sri Lanka’s chase back on track but were aided by Bangladesh fielder Liton Das, who was guilty of dropping both batters. Rajapaksa was on 14 when he was spilled at deep square leg while Asalanka was let off on 63. With Group One loaded with six Test-playing nations and only two sides going through to the semifinals, Bangladesh and Sri Lanka were desperate to get off to a winning start.
Naim and Das gave Bangladesh a solid base with an opening stand of 40 before the latter fell for 16 to fast bowler Lahiru Kumara. Das and Kumara got into a heated argument after the dismissal and had to be separated by the umpires and other players. Naim and Mushfiqur did the bulk of the scoring for Bangladesh with a third-wicket stand of 73. Bangladesh play England in its next match on Wednesday, a day before Sri Lanka takes on Australia.
During the post-match media talk, player of the Match Charith Asalanka said: It’s happy to score a winning knock for my country. I am very happy right now. My friends back home will be very happy right now, they always back. When I faced the first ball, it looked like a good pitch and I backed myself to play my natural game. Rajapaksa played a brilliant knock and he changed the momentum. I want to keep it up and look forward to do the same for my country in the upcoming games.
Sri Lanka captain Dasun Shanaka said: “It was not the easiest targets to chase but once batsmen are set, any target can be chased. It was an outstanding innings from Asalanka. It’s very important that youngsters step up at this stage, it was really nice to see that.”
Bangladesh captain Mahmudullah said: “I thought 171 could be defended. Liton and Naim gave us a very good start. Naim held the innings. Mushfiq played a brilliant innings. We were in the game till the tenth over. But things went wrong for us after that. We will correct that in the next game. We watched the IPL games and thought an extra spinner would help. The spinners bowled well but we missed a couple of chances. This game will boost up our batting unit and we are looking forward to the next game.”
SCORES IN BRIEF
SRI LANKA 172/5 in 18.5 overs (Charith Asalanka 80, Bhanuka Rajapaksa 53; Shakib Al Hasan 2/17, Nasum Ahmed 2/29) beat BANGLADESH 171/4 in 20 overs (Mohammad Naim 62, Mushfiqur Rahim 57; Chamika Karunaratne 1/12, Binura Fernando 1/27, Lahiru Kumara 1/29) by 5 wickets.

Asalanka steers Sri Lanka past Bangladesh 1

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