CC T20 World Cup – Super 12: Asalanka Heroics Seal Thrilling 5 Wickets Win
BY ANJANA KALUARACHCHI REPORTING FROM SHARJAH
Charith Asalanka stood tall when the chips were down with an unbeaten 80, while birthday boy Bhanuka Rajapaksa made a brisk half century, as Sri Lanka sealed a thrilling fivewicket win over Bangladesh in their first ICC T20 World Cup Super-12 match played here in Sharjah yesterday. Bangladesh dominated for the better part of the match, but the 24-year-old former Sri Lanka youth skipper batting at number 3 played a career best innings of 80 n.o. in just 49 deliveries, which sealed the game for SL, despite it looking like it was slipping away from them.
Earlier, half centuries by experienced batsmen Mushfiqur Rahim and Mohammad Naim, who both punished the SL bowlers, saw Bangladesh post healthy 171 for 4. Chasing the tally Sri Lanka had a good start with one down for 71 with Asalanka leading the charge, but three quick wickets put them on the back foot. With the two left handers, Asalanka and Rajapaksa in the middle, Bangladesh persisted with off spin which boomeranged on them, and to add to their woes, Liton Das dropped both Asalanka and Rajapaksa, as SL completed the chase in 18.5 overs losing only five wickets.
Chasing the tally on a not so traditional Sharjah wicket, Sri Lanka lost Kusal Perera early in the first over to set them on the back foot. But young Asalanka took charge by dealing with sixes, as he hammered two against Nasum Ahmed in the third over to take back the momentum. Together with Pathum Nissanka (24), the pair were cruising with their 69 run,s stand as SL were 71 for 1 after the 8th over.
Then came Shakib Al Hasan who removed Nissanka and Avishka Fernando, rattling the stumps of both. Sri Lanka opted to send Wanindu Hasaranga de Silva at number 5, but the move failed this time, as Mohammad Saifuddin removed him leaving Sri Lanka at a precarious 80 for 4. They were shackled in the next two overs which yielded only ten runs and were 90 for 4 after 12 with 82 to get from 8 overs. Bhanuka Rajapaksa started the counter attack with six over extra cover with an inside out shot, and then was lucky to be dropped by Liton Das behind square leg, which went for four.
Asalanka who had already brought up his fifty in 32 deliveries, came down the track and hammered Mahmudullah straight over his head for six in the next over, as Bangladesh opted to use their off spinners against the two left handers. Asalanka kept going with another slog sweep over the rope in the same over. Das dropped another chance off Asalanka in the next over when he was on 63, and Rajapaksa hammered Mohammad Saifuddin for 22 runs in the next over virtually sealing the game.
Rajapaksa hammered two consecutive sixes followed by two boundaries in the over which yielded 22 runs and Sri Lanka needed just a run a ball from there onwards. Rajapaksa brought up his half century in 28 deliveries which saw three sixes and three fours, before Nasum Ahmed bowled him to end an entertaining 86 runs stand in 50 deliveries, but the damage had already been done as SL sealed the chase with no more dramas.
Asalanka remained unbeaten on 80 in 49 deliveries 80 which saw five fours and five sixes. Earlier, opener Naim anchored one end while Mushfiqur Rahim attacked from the other, hammering the SL bowlers all over the par. Sri Lanka went in with a five-prong pace attack by bringing in left arm paceman Binura Fernando in place of finger spinner Maheesh Theekshana, who was rested for the game after sustaining a minor injury during the last game.
Sri Lanka badly missed Theekshana’s bowling, as the pace attack that always took early wickets, could not prise out the Bangladesh batsmen, who made steady starts. The move to bring in Charith Asalanka to bowl just after the power play proved to be costly, as his over yielded 13 runs while giving a huge momentum to Bangladesh, where they took the upper hand.
Lahiru Kumara took the first wicket where he gave a sendoff to Liton Das, which did not go down well with the umpires. Chamika Karunarathne removed Shakib Al Hasan, but then came Rahim who led the counter attack. Rahim smashed 57 off 37 which saw five fours and two sixes – both off slog sweeps to the shorter side of the ground - while Naim played steadily with 62 off 52 balls which saw six fours. The pair added 72 off 51 deliveries for the third wicket which was the core of the Bangladesh inning. Sri Lanka will have three days break before their next game on the 28th (Wednesday) against Australia in Dubai.