World T20: Asalanka, Rajapaksa seal run-chase for Sri Lanka against Bangladesh

SUMMARY: Sri Lanka 172-5 (Asalanka 80*, Rajapaksa 53, Shakib 2-17) beat Bangladesh 171-4 (Naim 62, Mushfiqur 57*) by five wickets


Sri Lanka produced a stunning run-chase to beat Bangladesh by five wickets in their first Men’s T20 World Cup Super 12s match.

Chasing 172, Sri Lanka slipped to 79-4 before Charith Asalanka’s unbeaten 80 and Bhanuka Rajapaksa’s aggressive 53 from 31 balls put them on top.

Their 86-run stand helped Sri Lanka secure victory in front of a lively crowd in Sharjah. Bangladesh had earlier posted 171-4 from their 20 overs.

After two low-scoring games in front of half-full stands, this was the match that made the tournament come alive.

Mushfiqur Rahim’s 67 and 62 from Mohammad Naim had helped Bangladesh post an imposing total.

But Asalanka, arriving with his side 2-1, played aggressively from the start, while Rajapaksa’s big hitting swung things Sri Lanka’s way.

Both players were dropped by Liton Das as Bangladesh faltered, with Sri Lanka winning with seven balls to spare.

There was some tension, with Lahiru Kumara having a heated exchange with Liton after dismissing the Bangladesh opener. Several players became involved in the confrontation before the umpires stepped in.

But that was a sidenote to the brilliant 73-run stand between Naim and Mushfiqur, which thrilled the full stadium.

Naim anchored the innings while Mushfiqur hit out, slog-sweeping two sixes to up the run-rate. While Naim fell shortly after making his half-century, caught off a top edge, Mushfiqur continued to accelerate, bringing up his own 50 from 32 balls.

Bhanuka Rajapaksa of Sri Lanka plays a shot as Nural Hasan of Bangladesh looks on during the ICC Men’s T20 World Cup match between Sri Lanka and Bangladesh at Sharjah Cricket Stadium on October 24, 2021 in Sharjah, United Arab Emirates. (Photo by Matthew Lewis-ICC/ICC via Getty Images)

Bangladesh’s total always felt imposing and when Kusal Perera fell in the first over of Sri Lanka’s reply, bowled by Nasum Ahmed after missing a sweep, it looked as though the game could be over quickly.

However, Asalanka played superbly, hitting two sixes in three balls and targeting the Bangladesh spinners as Sri Lanka moved to 71-1.

Two wickets in three balls for Shakib checked Sri Lanka’s momentum – and delighted the crowd – but Rajapaksa was the ideal foil for Asalanka, with the two dispatching the 16th over for 22 runs.

Rajapaksa was dropped on 14 by Liton on the boundary edge, but it was the same man’s drop of Asalanka on 63 that proved decisive.

Bangladesh face England on Wednesday, while Sri Lanka play Australia on Thursday. (BBC Sport)

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