Dropped catches cost Tigers
Charith Asalanka's unbeaten 80 alongside two dropped catches by Liton Das crushed Bangladesh's hopes of a winning start to the Super 12 stage of the ICC T20 World Cup, with the Tigers suffering a five-wicket defeat to Sri Lanka at the Sharjah Cricket Stadium yesterday.
Bangladesh posted a challenging total of 171 for four in their allotted overs, but some poor captaincy from Mahmudullah Riyad and the opponent's blistering start with the bat courtesy of Asalanka and Pathum Nissanka adding 54 runs in the Powerplay set the tone.
Later, Bhanuka Rajapaksa added a quickfire 31-ball 53. He also formed half of a match winning 86-run fifth-wicket stand alongside Asalanka to get them over the line.
The turning point was when Liton misjudged a simple catch at deep square leg that would have sent back Rajapaksa for 14 in the third ball of the 13th over from Afif Hossain. At that stage, Sri Lanka needed 74 off 46 balls with six wickets in hand.
Just an over later, Liton dropped another simple catch, a loft to the extra cover region at the bowling of Mustafizur Rahman, this time giving Asalanka a reprieve when he was on 63.
Sri Lanka still needed 49 runs off 34 balls, but Asalanka and Rajapaksa made the most of their second lives, taking control of the game. Rajapaksa plundered 22 runs off the 16th over from Mohammad Saifuddin, which included two sixes and two fours, signaling the end for Bangladesh.
Earlier, Shakib had put the brakes on the Lankans after they blazed to 71 for 1 inside eight overs, removing Nissanka and Avishka Fernando in the ninth over.
Questions could be raised about Mahmudullah's strategy to not bring Shakib back into the bowling attack considering that two left-handers were at the crease. He instead opted to bowl himself, conceding 21 runs off his two overs. Shakib did not even complete his quota, bowling three overs and conceding 17 runs while scalping two wickets.
Bangladesh did manage to dismiss Rajapaksa after a 31-ball 53, which included three fours and three sixes off Nasum's bowling. But it was too late for the Tigers.
Asalanka, playing just his fifth T20I, struck the winning boundary, remaining unbeaten for a 49-ball 80 which featured five sixes and five fours.
Interestingly, neither Asalanka nor Rajapaksa would have made it into the World Cup squad had Niroshan Dickwella, Kusal Mendis and Danushka Gunathilaka not been suspended by Sri Lanka Cricket (SLC) after a video emerged of them flouting Covid-19 rules in England in June this year.
Before the exchange, Bangladesh posted a fighting total of 171 for four after being sent in to bat, riding on Naim Sheikh's second fifty at the flagship event. He made 62 off 52 balls with six fours.
Mushfiqur Rahim returned to form with an unbeaten 37-ball 57, which featured five fours and two sixes, as Bangladesh added 53 runs in the last five overs of the innings.