Sadeera Samarawickrama a rousing Player of the Match 93
By Srian Obeyesekere
In an exhilarating all-round display fronted by Sadeera Samarawickrama’s 93 off 72 and some resolute pull back bowling, defending champions Sri Lanka defeated Bangladesh for a second time by an emphatic 21 runs going into the Super 4 in the wake of the group win in achieving the milestone of 13 straight ODI wins for the record for the second highest number in the unbeaten lane in staying on course to making it to the finals of the 16th edition of the Asia Cup yesterday at the R. Premadasa International Cricket Stadium. Australia holds the record for the most number of unbeaten ODI triumphs numbering 23.
Exhilarating it was in that the Lankans recovered from 181 for 6 after 41.3 overs following a healthy 144 for 4 upfront off 31.5 to having their opponents on their knees on 83 for 4 in 18.5 overs to checking the Towhid Hridoy-Mushfiqur Rahim fifth-wicket recovery trail of 72 runs when Bangladesh reached a threatening 155 for 5 from the dumps after 37.2 overs requiring a further 103 off 12.4 to overhaul the hosts modest 257 for 9. Hridoy made a painstaking 82 off 97 hitting 7 boundaries and a six and Rahim plodded to 29 off 48 without chancing his arm. Sri Lanka’s early thrust revolved around Shanaka removing both openers in quick succession following a sound start of 55 from 11.1 first removing Mehidy Hasan Miraz for 28 caught by substitute fielder Hemantha and Mohammad Naim for 21 induced to edge behind to the wicket-keeper Mendis as Bangladesh slipped to 2 for 60 into the fourth delivery of the 14th over. Sri Lanka’s fight back was also mounted by Maheesh Theekshana who claimed 3 wickets including the prize wicket of Hridoy trapped leg before wicket, and Matheesha Pathirana who returned to collect two more wickets having removed Bangladesh skipper Shakib Al Hasan caught behind for 3 in a bout of brilliant zippy pace bowling with a slinger action that reminded one of the early acclaim the 20-year old had received when only aged 17 when he claimed 6 wickets in an inter-school match representing Trinity College that also caught the attention of the international media.
Sri Lanka fought back after seeing the early stranglehold meteorically dismantled by Hridoy and Rahim in bringing back Bangladesh back into contention from a perilous 83 for 4 when Dasun Shanaka rose from the despair of a poor personal run in recent times to sending back Rahim for 29 in a 3-wicket burst to go with an equally pleasing comeback 24 with the bat off 32 in getting off the mark with a blazing boundary in a at long last captain’s lead role to seeing his side through. It was a fitting comeback to capping Shanaka’s 35th birthday triggered by Rahim’s dismissal when Kasun Rajith at covers sped several yards forward and dived to hold on to seize the ball from a full-blooded shot. It put paid to Bangladesh’s late hopes of stopping the Lankans box seat advancement when No. 4 Sadeera Samarawickrama roared in a blistering knock filled with 6 boundaries and a six in a dominating role almost right to the end falling to the final delivery of the innings surviving a hard chance early on. The most fruitful partnership in that reign was the 60 for the sixth-wicket with Dasun Shanaka in lifting Sri Lanka from 164 for 5 off 37.1 to 224 into the 47th over following in a virtual lone run accumulation having seen wickets fall cheaply on the way. Upfront one drop Kusal Mendis had played a muscle lending 50 off 73 inclusive of 6 boundaries and a six in adding 74 for the second wicket with Pathum Nissanka 40 off 60 (5×4) who had given the side a fair 34-run start with Dimuth Karunaratne a run a ball 18 with 3 boundaries.
Sri Lanka 257/9 (50 Overs)
(Sadeera Samarawickrama 93, Kusal Mendis 50, Pathum Nissanka 40, Dasun Shanaka 24, Dimuth Karunaratne 18, Charith Asalanka 10, Hasan Mahmud 3/57, Taskin Ahmed 3/62, Shoriful Islam 2/48)
Bangladesh 236 (48.1 Overs)
(Towhid Hridoy 82, Mushfiqur Rahim 29 , Mehidy Hasan Miraz 28, Mohammad Naim 21, Litton Das 15, Nasum Ahmed 15, Dasun Shanaka 3/28, Matheesha Pathirana 3/58, Maheesh Theekshana 3/69, Dunith Wellalage 1/26)