Kusal fifty sets up last-ball thriller
Sri Lanka 168 for 7 (Kusal 64, Sunny 2-17) beat Bangladesh 166 for7 (Anamul 58, Kulasekara 2-29) by two runs
Scorecard and ball-by-ball details
Dinesh Chandimal was in the middle of several mini conferences during the Bangladesh chase, and at the end of the 16th over, he held his own by bringing back Lasith Malinga. Nasir Hossain got out and Sri Lanka went ahead and sensed victory even as the 20th over began. But Malinga was done, he had bowled the 19th, so Thisara Perera was given the ball and he almost gave it away. Anamul Haque blasted 14 runs in the final over and Bangladesh fell short by just two runs.
The dramatic end came in the last ball when Anamaul top-edged a full toss and was gobbled up by the bowler. His innings ended on 58 off 44 balls, opening up only towards the end when he hammered Perera twice over cover to bring the game almost to Bangladesh's grasp.
Chandimal's decision cut the home side short of Nasir's abilities to finish a T20 match. The 17th over originally seemed to be Sachithra Senanayake's responsibility, but Chandimal had held firm and Sri Lanka won perhaps on the back of his gutsy captaincy, highlighted by subtle changes in the field and more visibly last-minute bowling changes.
Defending 168 runs on a flat deck was never going to be easy but Sri Lanka bowled progressively better as the game went on. While Bangladesh's required rate seemed to be in control early on, the bowlers recovered towards the end, pushing it till the final over when Bangladesh needed 17 to win.
Shamsur Rahman and Tamim Iqbal gave the hosts an excellent start, adding the team's second fifty-plus opening stand. Shamsur was strong down the ground while Tamim played Malinga and the other seamers very well, particularly through point.
The tide turned when Shamsur got out softly, giving Ajantha Mendis a return catch. Angelo Mathews then made sure Sri Lanka remained in the game, by running back from short midwicket and diving full length to hold onto a miscued pull from Tamim.
Shakib and Anamul then added 43 runs for the third wicket, with some feisty batting and some wild slogs. This was the partnership that would take Bangladesh close to the target, but Shakib's over-eagerness to slog the ball nipped it in the 14th over. Shakib made 26 off 17 balls, his paddle sweep against the pace off Nuwan Kulasekera, standing out.
Sri Lanka's target was largely down to Kusal Perera.. The hacks, slices and bumps were abundant as he tucked in at the Zahur Ahmed Chowdhury Stadium. He was in his element while the rest of the batting line-up stuttered, clubbing Mashrafe Mortaza over his head in the very first over.
Kusal then went after Sohag Gazi in the fourth over, sweeping him twice and then following it up with two bunts through midwicket to complete four consecutive fours. Comparisons with Sanath Jayasuriya were justified in the 13th over when he picked up Farhad Reza, with a jerk of the wrist. It landed in the stands between deep square-leg and midwicket.
With Kusal in pime form, the only way Bangladesh could have got him out was through a piece of brilliance. It came from Anamul at the midwicket boundary, jumping high to first get hold of the ball, before having the agility to twist and stay inside the rope as he balanced himself on one leg. Kusal was out for 64 off 44 balls, having struck seven fours and the six.
That was not the only great catch of the evening though. Kumar Sangakkara had lofted one towards widish long-on and had timed it wonderfully. Nasir ran across on the midwicket boundary, dove full length to his right, flew almost and held on to it. Seekuge Prasanna fell to an ill-timed sweep shot, giving left-arm spinner Arafat Sunny his first T20 international wicket, making it 87 for 4 in the 10th over.
At the start it was Mashrafe who struck in the first over when Tillakaratne Dilshan misread his guile and went for his scoop far too soon. Both of them played together in both domestic and Twenty20 tournaments in Bangladesh, so it was all the sweeter for Mashrafe.
Chandimal batted at No. 3, but he failed to make a mark as he was dismissed by Shakib Al Hasan. After a short burst against his opposite number Mashrafe, Chandimal fell to a good catch by Reza at long-on, ending a 56-run second wicket stand with Perera.
Shakib, Sunny and Mashrafe took two wickets each, the most impressive of them being Sunny. The debutant bowled straight, turned a few deliveries and made sure the Sri Lankan batsman never dominated him as he gave away just 17 runs in three overs.
Mohammad Isam is ESPNcricinfo's Bangladesh correspondent. He tweets here