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15th Match, Group 1, Sharjah, October 24, 2021, ICC Men's T20 World Cup
(18.5/20 ov, T:172) 172/5

Sri Lanka won by 5 wickets (with 7 balls remaining)

Player Of The Match
80* (49)
Cricinfo's MVP
96.5 ptsImpact List

Charith Asalanka and Bhanuka Rajapaksa script stunning opening win for Sri Lanka

Mushfiqur Rahim's unbeaten 37-ball 57 had spurred Bangladesh on to a daunting 171 in the first innings

Sri Lanka 172 for 5 (Asalanka 80*, Rajapaksa 53, Shakib 2-17) beat Bangladesh 171 for 4 (Naim 62, Mushfiqur 57*) by five wickets
For once, it was Sri Lanka's batters who bailed their bowlers out. It wasn't the experienced hands either. Here was Sri Lanka's new generation standing up. Chasing 172, on an asymmetric ground (there was a 73-metre boundary on one side, and a 57-metre one on the other), Charith Asalanka produced the innings of the game, hitting 80 not out off 49 balls, from Sri Lanka's troubled No. 3 position. Along the way, he had the company of Pathum Nissanka, with whom he put up a stand worth 69 off 45, before Bhanuka Rajapaksa came in at No. 6 and struck 53 off 31 himself, effectively helping secure the game.
This, to trump an outstanding 57 not out off 37 from Mushfiqur Rahim, and a solid 62 off 52 from Mohammad Naim. They played Sri Lanka's top wicket-takers incredibly well. Neither Dushmantha Chameera nor Wanindu Hasaranga took a wicket, and both went at more than 9.5 an over.
Bangladesh, perhaps, were guilty of keeping too many overs from their two best bowlers - Shakib Al Hasan and Mustafizur Rahman - in reserve. By the time Shakib came in to bowl his third over in the 17th, Sri Lanka were fully in control of the chase.
Asalanka explodes in the powerplay
Before this match, Asalanka's T20 strike rate was 120. He had not been especially impressive in the T20Is he had played either. The fact he was coming in at No. 3 was more to do with the fact that Sri Lanka had a hole to fill there, not because Asalanka was particularly suited to that position. All of which made this innings that much more remarkable.
Having come in during the first over following Kusal Perera's dismissal, Asalanka swept his third ball - from Mahedi Hasan, who turns the ball away from him - for four. Next over, he walloped the left-arm spin of Nasum Ahmed - against the turn again - over long off (the shorter side of the ground), before slog sweeping him with the turn for another six. He hit another four off Mohammad Saifuddin, and by the end of the powerplay, Asalanka had 32 off 18 in Sri Lanka' s 54 for 1.
Shakib makes a double-strike
Shakib was unable to make his presence felt with the bat, but his second over seemed to turn the game. Pathum Nissanka was batting nicely with Asalanka, the pair having put on a brisk 69 together, before Shakib dipped one underneath Nissanka's sweep, and later in that same over, foxed Avishka Fernando with another flighted delivery for his second bowled dismissal of the over. When Wanindu Hasaranga - promoted to No. 5 again - holed out in the next over, Sri Lanka had slid from 79 for 1 to 79 for 4.
The stand with Rajapaksa
Bhanuka Rajapaksa, though, produced perhaps his best international innings to date, to help Asalanka all-but guide Sri Lanka home. He started slowly, making only six from his first nine, before making big moves against Afif Hossain, the offspinner who had been brought on to bowl at the two lefties at the crease. He hit him inside out over cover for six (with the spin), but then had a huge slice of fortune, when Liton Das misread a catch at deep square-leg and dropped Rajapaksa on 14, palming the ball on to the boundary.
The pair edged Sri Lanka closer, largely playing risk-free shots, until Rajapaksa positively exploded in the 16th over - bowled by Saifuddin - smashing a six over deep square-leg, another over deep midwicket, and two fours to boot. When the 22 runs had been scored off that over, Sri Lanka only needed 24 at a run-a-ball.
Mushfiqur and Naim set Bangladesh up
Despite the short boundary on one side, Bangladesh's 171 for 4 seemed a good - if not quite commanding - total. Both Naim and Mushfiqur targeted the square boundaries, but it was Mushfiqur who was especially effective at moving around the crease to get into positions that allowed him to target that short side of the field. The pair's partnership was worth 71 off 51, and effectively formed the spine of Bangladesh's innings. Mushfiqur's half-century was his fourth overall in T20Is, and his third against Sri Lanka.

Andrew Fidel Fernando is ESPNcricinfo's Sri Lanka correspondent. @afidelf

Win Probability
SL 100%
100%50%100%BAN InningsSL Innings

Over 19 • SL 172/5

Bhanuka Rajapaksa b Nasum Ahmed 53 (31b 3x4 3x6 45m) SR: 170.96
Sri Lanka won by 5 wickets (with 7 balls remaining)
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