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Sri Lanka won comfortably against Bangladesh in a low scoring total

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Bangladesh vs Srilanka

Credit: SURJEET YADAV/AFP via Getty Images

Charith Asalanka and Sadeera Samarawickrama both scored fifty runs to help Sri Lanka defeat Bangladesh by five wickets in a tense chase in slow conditions to open their Asia Cup campaign. As a consequence, Sri Lanka has a chance to advance to the Super 4 level, while Bangladesh will play an important match against Afghanistan.

Asalanka, who entered this match in a shaky patch of form, finished undefeated on 62 off 92 deliveries. This tenacious performance was just what the two-paced Pallekele surface and a bowling unit from Bangladesh required to win the match.

When Asalanka joined Samarawickrama in the middle, Sri Lanka was in trouble at 43 for 3. They had been given a target of just 165. Before that, Kusal Mendis was castled by a Shakib Al Hasan arm ball, while Dimuth Karanuratne played all over a full in-ducker from Taskin Ahmed. A short, broad one from Shoriful Islam had been sliced and stolen by Pathum Nissanka.

sri vs ban
Credit: Pankaj Nangia/Getty Images

Early wickets are important when defending a low score, and Bangladesh undoubtedly thought they were still in the match at that time. However, Sri Lanka had Samarawickrama, who was exactly the player they needed in that circumstance.

Samarawickrama, who was batting at position number four, took it upon himself to maintain the score. Although he demonstrated his purpose by hitting back-to-back boundaries against Taskin, including a lavish cover drive, the loss of wickets compelled him to take on more of an accumulator role.

When Asalanka joined him, the two were initially willing to push for singles and play out dot balls as needed, with no pressure from the scoreboard. Even so, Samarawickrama alleviated any tension that may have been building by hitting two fours against Shakib in the 19th over.

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Before Samarawickrama fell, stumped off Mahedi Hasan, the two worked together for 78 runs, but by this time, the pursuit was already well under control. A little while later, Shakib disturbed Dhananjaya de Silva’s stumps, which caused some additional Sri Lankan anxieties, but Dasun Shanaka joined Asalanka at the crease to finish the chase.

Bangladesh will be left wondering what may have been in light of the fact that they were unable to bat out the entire 50 overs. Only Najmul Hossain Shanto, with his heroic 89, offered any opposition to Sri Lanka’s bowlers, who knocked out the remainder of Bangladesh’s batting order for 164 after having the rest of the lineup in a chokehold.

Matheesha Theekshana picked up a couple, and Matheesha Pathirana finished with career-best figures of 4 for 32 to cap off his Asia Cup debut. However, the right-arm and left-arm spin combo of Dhananjaya and Dunith Wellalage ploughed through the middle overs, never allowing the batters to score freely, and most importantly, allowed captain Shanaka to delay the reintroduction of both Theekshana and Pathirana. This s et the stage for Sri Lanka’s strike bowlers to flourish.

This was important since Sri Lanka was lacking one strike bowler due to the injured Wanindu Hasaranga’s absence. However, Sri Lanka’s bowlers maintained strong lines and lengths on this challenging surface and never really let the Bangladesh batters have the upper hand for any appreciable period of time.

Shakib gloved Pathirana behind in the eleventh over to leave Bangladesh reeling at 36 for three after Theekshana and Dhananjaya had quickly and cheaply removed openers Tanzid Hasan and Mohammed Naim.

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With Shanto and Towhid Hridoy putting up a 59-run partnership, Bangladesh finally attempted to enter the game at this point, but the strain that had built up in the middle overs started to take its toll. Through DRS, Shanaka engaged in self-provocation and put Hridoy in the corner.

Mushfiqur Rahim and Shanto then shared 32 runs for the fifth wicket, but the former failed to capitalise on a classic strategy by holing out to deep third after receiving two full deliveries and a short one.