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RESULT
8th Match, Super Four (D/N), Colombo (RPS), September 09, 2023, Asia Cup
(48.1/50 ov, T:258) 236

Sri Lanka won by 21 runs

Player Of The Match
93 (72)
sadeera-samarawickrama
Report

Sadeera 93 trumps Hridoy's 82 as Sri Lanka start Super Four with close win

Three wickets apiece for Dasun Shanaka, Matheesha Pathirana and Maheesh Theekshana sealed 21-run victory

Sri Lanka 257 for 9 (Samarawickrama 93, Kusal 50, Mahmud 3-57) beat Bangladesh 236 (Hridoy 82, Shanaka 3-28, Pathirana 3-58) by 21 runs
Sadeera Samarawickrama's expert 93 trumped Towhid Hridoy's gritty 82 to see Sri Lanka through to a 21-run win in Colombo, and with it, a winning start to their Super Four campaign. The result now leaves Bangladesh struggling with two defeats in as many games in this round, even as Sri Lanka racked up their 13th straight ODI win.
Set a target of 258 to win, Hridoy and Mushfiqur Rahim would put on a 72-run stand for the fifth wicket, but on a tough track at the Premadasa Stadium, the pressure built by Sri Lanka's bowlers would eventually tell as Bangladesh fell just short of the finish.
While Samarawickrama's innings will rightly collect all the plaudits, this was just as much a win propped up by Sri Lanka's ever more impressive bowling unit. By now, their injury travails are well documented; but with each passing game, there seems to be someone that steps up to take up the mantle.
Here it was Dasun Shanaka, the captain himself, bowling nine overs for just the second time in his career - he is yet to bowl a full allotment of ten in ODIs - as he stepped up to end with figures of 3 for 28. Shanaka's first strike broke a threatening opening stand of 55 between Mehidy Hasan Miraz and Mohammad Naim, as he got Mehidy caught at short midwicket. His third would be to end Hridoy's stand with Mushfiqur.
Why Shanaka was even needed to bowl so many overs was down to Sri Lanka's usual early-overs weapon Maheesh Theekshana having copped a blow on his right thumb while batting, and thus taken out of the attack after an eight-run opening over. Theekshana, as it would turn out, would return towards the death overs to grab the crucial wicket of Hridoy, as well as Shamim Hossain and Taskin Ahmed - all lbw - to finish with three wickets, though 69 runs given away off nine overs was uncharacteristically high.
Matheesha Pathirana picked up three as well, including the crucial wicket of Shakib Al Hasan, while two searing yorkers were enough to clean up the tail that briefly threatened to wag.
This, though, was a game that could not have been won if not for Samarawickrama. It was that quintessential knock where one batter simply seemed to be playing on a different surface altogether than his team-mates. It was an innings of precision and purpose; but Samarawickrama has toiled in the domestic circuit for several years to earn his chance, and after this outing, his place in the ODI side should be all but locked in.
Having come into bat in the 24th over, Samarawickrama played the game state to perfection, knocking the ball around initially while dealing almost exclusively in singles. In fact, up until the 40th over, he had just two fours to his name. By the time he was dismissed off the final ball of the innings, that number reached eight, alongside two sixes to go with it. In the process, Sri Lanka racked up 81 runs in the final ten overs in what would turn out to be a match-winning total of 257.
Not that it was obvious to anyone at the halfway mark - except Samarawickrama. After his innings, he proclaimed that it was an above-par score, the confidence in his tone suggesting an unwavering trust in his own appraisal of the surface, which in itself adds more merit to his knock.
Prior to Samarawickrama's intervention, this was a game that had threatened to go the way so many other Sri Lanka batting performances had - with a fizzle at the death. A 34-run opening stand followed by a 74-run partnership between Kusal Mendis and Pathum Nissanka had laid a solid enough platform by taking Sri Lanka to 103 for 1 by the end of the 22nd over.
But between overs 22 and 40, Sri Lanka scored just 74 runs, as wickets fell at regular intervals. While Kusal got a second successive fifty, he again failed to convert it into a big score, with his fifty-to-hundred ratio reading 23:2.
During this period, Bangladesh varied their bowling options well, frequently pairing pace with spin. This meant that while the spinners kept one end quiet, the Sri Lanka batters were forced to take on the seamers at the other end. This would end in a lopsided scorecard where each of the three Bangladesh pace bowlers went for over six runs an over, but picked up eight wickets between them. The three spinners, by contrast, went wicketless, but none cost more than five an over.
Bangladesh's innings followed a similar script, with Hridoy and Mushfiqur's stand taking the chase deep. In the end, though, Samarawickrama's innings would prove the difference. After 39 overs, the score for both sides was 173 for 5. By the 40th over, Bangladesh needed 81 to win, the exact amount Sri Lanka had taken off their final ten.
But an innings wouldn't be special if it was easily replicated. Mushfiqur fell trying to hit out, while Hridoy ran out of batters before falling prey to Theekshana. A couple of lusty blows by the tail threatened a late twist, but by then, Sri Lanka had done enough.

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Asia Cup

Super Four
TEAMMWLPTNRR
IND32141.753
SL3214-0.134
BAN3122-0.463
PAK3122-1.283
Group A
TEAMMWLPTNRR
PAK21034.760
IND21031.028
NEP2020-3.572
Group B
TEAMMWLPTNRR
SL22040.594
BAN21120.373
AFG2020-0.910