Sri Lanka begin Asia Cup campaign with five-wicket victory over Bangladesh

Sri Lanka commenced their Asia Cup journey with a convincing five-wicket win over Bangladesh in the Group B match played at the Pallekele International Cricket Stadium.

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On a pitch displaying varying characteristics, young fast bowler Matheesha Pathirana delivered a career-best performance with figures of 4-32. The reliable Maheesh Theekshana also chipped in with 2-19, which led to Bangladesh being dismissed for a total of 164 runs in 42.4 overs. During the middle overs, spinners Dhananjaya de Silva and Dunith Wellalage maintained pressure on the Bangladesh batting lineup, preventing them from scoring freely. However, Najmul Hossain Shanto played a commendable innings for Bangladesh, contributing a fine 89.

In response, Sri Lanka were troubled early, being reduced to 43/3. However, Charith Asalanka played an unbeaten innings of 62, including five fours and a six, while Sadeera Samarawickrama added 54 runs, featuring six fours. The two then stabilised the Lankan innings and bring them back into the game.

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The two formed a crucial 78-run partnership for the fourth wicket, successfully completing the chase with 11 overs to spare.
Opting to bat first, Bangladesh’s openers, Tanzid Hasan Tamim and Mohammad Naim, both fell within the initial eight overs. Tanzid’s ODI debut saw him departing for a duck in the second over as Theekshana managed to get the ball past his bat and hit his back pad, resulting in an lbw dismissal.

Meanwhile, at the other end, Naim skied one to point off Dhananjaya’s bowling in the eighth over. Skipper Shakib Al Hasan attempted a cut shot off a short and wide delivery from Pathirana in the 11th over but ended up nicking it behind to the wicketkeeper, leaving Bangladesh at 37/3.

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Shanto reached his fourth ODI fifty and partnered with Towhid Hridoy (20 off 41 balls) for a stand of 59 runs. However, captain Dasun Shanaka trapped Hridoy lbw after a DRS review, followed by Mushfiqur Rahim being caught on the deep third man boundary while attempting a cut shot off Pathirana.

Shanto then struggled to find support from the other end as Pathirana and Theekshana dismantled the lower order. Besides Shanto and Hridoy, only two other batters reached double-digit scores as Bangladesh’s innings crumbled from 127/4 to 164 all out, with their last six wickets falling for just 37 runs.

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During the chase, Bangladesh pacers Taskin Ahmed and Shoriful Islam removed Sri Lanka’s openers, Dimuth Karunaratne and Pathum Nissanka, within the first four overs. Taskin bowled Karunaratne for just one in the third over, followed by Shoriful finding Nissanka’s edge with a short and wide delivery.

Kusal Mendis’ struggles ended when he was bowled by Shakib in the final over of the power-play, leaving Sri Lanka in a precarious position at 43-3. Samarawickrama and Asalanka then steadied the innings, both reaching their respective half-centuries. Although Bangladesh managed to dismiss Samarawickrama and Dhananjaya in quick succession, it was too late as Sri Lanka secured their 11th consecutive ODI victory. Bangladesh now face a must-win match against Afghanistan on Sunday to advance to the Super Four stage.

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