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The Report by Andrew Fidel Fernando
March 31, 2013
Sri Lanka 198 for 5 (Kusal Perera 64, Mendis 37) beat Bangladesh 181 for 7 (Ashraful 43, Mushfiqur 39, Thisara Perera 2-25) by 17 runs
Scorecard and ball-by-ball details
A marauding Kusal Perera set the platform for Sri Lanka's 198 for 5, which proved 17 runs too many for the valiant Bangladesh batsmen, in the one-off Twenty20 in Pallekele. His 64 from 44 balls saw Sri Lanka travel at nearly 11-an over during the Powerplay, before their middle-order allrounders exploited generous bowling to close the innings at a gallop. Though three Bangladesh batsmen threatened to rally a forceful response, Mohammad Ashraful, Mushfiqur Rahim and Mahmudullah all fell before their side could mount a serious challenge.
Kusal's onslaught began from the second delivery which he whipped aerially off his pads behind square, before he picked up the fifth ball and deposited it in the stands and then blasted the next behind point for four. Like a young Sanath Jayasuriya with a ballet coach, Kusal flitted about the crease - venturing swiftly out of it on occasion - before sending the ball hurtling, with a rapid swing of the blade.
At 25 for no loss at the end of the second over, Mushfiqur introduced Sohag Gazi to change the pace of the game, but Kusal welcomed him into the attack with a mighty slog-swept six over cow corner. When Abdur Razzak came on to bowl, he was spared first ball, but slammed into the grass bank behind deep midwicket next delivery.
The fours flowed too: over cover, through point, behind square on the leg side - five in total, to go with four sixes. Kusal reined in the big shots when the field spread, rotating the strike first with Dinesh Chandimal, then Lahiru Thirimanne, and the first shot he mishit in the game was the one that brought his demise. He top-edged a cut shot off Mahmudullah, three balls after having sent him high over deep midwicket. When he departed at 100 for 4 after 12 overs, only a middle-order collapse would have restricted Sri Lanka to an average total, and the Bangladesh bowlers' generosity ensured that would not eventuate.
But despite the tall Sri Lanka total, Bangladesh batted so well, they might justly feel aggrieved at the officiating. The match was marred by contentious decisions - at least two of which had the potential to change the game's narrative dramatically. The clearest of these was Ashraful's lbw, which came off a thigh-high Thisara Perera full toss. Ashraful had struck two sixes and a four off the three previous deliveries, signalling an imminent sustained barrage, but it was cut short when the umpire ruled him out despite the ball having struck his thigh pad outside the line of the stumps.
Earlier, debutant Shamsur Rahman had been given out to his first ball in international cricket, after being struck above the knee roll, some way outside the popping crease. The first ball of the match, however, had been a close call for Kusal, and two more marginal decisions in Sri Lanka's innings went the hosts' way.
Bangladesh began their innings more slowly than Sri Lanka, hitting only 45 from their Powerplay overs, for the loss of Shamsur and Jahurul Islam. When Ashraful fell in the seventh over, Mushfiqur assumed the aggressor's role, but soon after, Mahmudullah also began scoring quickly. Mushfiqur first struck two fours in three balls off Sachithra Senanayake, before lifting a low full toss from Shaminda Eranga over the long-on fence two overs later. Angelo Perera had not had a chance to bat on debut, but his part-time left-arm spin disappeared for 17 off Mushfiqur's blade in the 13th over, to complete a six-over stretch that saw Bangladesh maul 72.
But in two balls in the fifteenth over, Bangladesh lost both set batsman, and with them, their hopes of a triumphant end to the tour. Mushfiqur top edged a gentle full toss from Senanayake to deep square leg, and next ball, a mix-up while attempting a third ended with both batsmen stranded mid-pitch, and Mahmudullah eventually given out, having not crossed his partner. With six wickets down, Mominul Haque then faced a required run-rate of 12 with five wickets to go and the tail for company. He finished unbeaten on 26 from 16, having hit three boundaries that made the end result perhaps seem closer than it was.
During Sri Lanka's innings, Bangladesh's spinners combined through the middle overs to force several setbacks, but a dropped catch off Angelo Mathews in the deep, borne from miscommunication between long-on and midwicket, cost the visitors a chance to keep Sri Lanka to a manageable score. Next over, with six wickets remaining and only four overs to go, Jeevan Mendis felt it appropriate to throw his bat early in the over, sweeping Razzak over midwicket, then blasting him over cover, to herald Sri Lanka's final charge.
The fast bowlers' indiscipline hurt Bangladesh further, as they continued pitching too short throughout the final overs, with several wayward deliveries served up as well. Mendis pulled Rubel Hossain high into the stands early in the 17th over, before murdering a short wide one through point next ball. When he got out, Thisara completed a sorry night for Shahadat Hossain, when he launched his over of criminally poor bowling into the night for 24, to leave the bowler with no wicket for 54 from four overs. Mathews, who had held the innings together after Kusal fell, finished on 30 from 27 deliveries.
Andrew Fidel Fernando is ESPNcricinfo's Sri Lanka correspondent. He tweets hereFeeds: Andrew Fidel Fernando
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