Bangladesh 261 (Mushfiqur 144, Mithun 63, Malinga 4-23) beat Sri Lanka 124 (Tharanga 27, Dilruwan 29, Mustafizur 2-20, Mehidy 2-21, Mashrafe 2-25) by 137 runs
Farveez Maharoof tells the Match Day team that Sri Lanka are at least a specialist batsman short of being competitive at the Asia Cup
Mushfiqur Rahim‘s sublime 144 hauled Bangladesh kicking and screaming to 261, then a fired-up Mashrafe Mortaza set in motion a Sri Lanka collapse, and the first match of the Asia Cup soon turned into a thrashing – Bangladesh claiming victory by 137 runs, after Sri Lanka crashed to 69 for 7, then 124 all out.
A third Bangladesh senior had also played an impressive role in the victory. Tamim Iqbal faced only four deliveries in all, but he had crucially come out to bat again with a broken wrist – which he had sustained in the second over – with nine wickets down. Mushfiqur made spectacular use of his teammate’s bravery, hitting a further three fours and three sixes, as 32 runs were added to the team total, lifting Bangladesh from a modest score to a competitive one.
Though his contribution was eventually drowned out by those of Bangladesh’s experienced players, one Sri Lanka old-timer also had an outstanding outing. Lasith Malinga, playing his first international in a year, shook off the rust, struck twice in his first over, and finished with 4 for 23 from 10 overs, to suggest that his one-day career was far from done yet. Had his teammates held all their catches, Malinga might have wreaked even more damage. He should have had Mohammad Mithun – who went on to make 63 in a 131-run stand with Mushfiqur – caught at mid on for one, if Angelo Mathews had held the catch while diving forward. In general, Sri Lanka were woeful in the field, spilling no fewer than four catches, including two off Mushfiqur, who was reprieved on 10 and 85. For the umpteenth time in the last three years, their catching can be said to have cost Sri Lanka a one-dayer.
Though perhaps it is their batting that was the worse suit on this evening (it’s often difficult to work out which discipline was the worst with this Sri Lanka ODI team). Kusal Mendis – opening in place of Danushka Gunathilaka – was Mashrafe’s first victim, as he got himself trapped in front of the stumps the first ball he faced, but Upul Tharanga had been storming away at the other end, and looked good for a big innings, until, typically, he suddenly played a poor shot. Attempting to steer a Mashrafe delivery to third man, Tharanga only managed to play it on to his stumps. Mashrafe would have a second important wicket soon after – nailing Dhananjaya de Silva in front of the stumps for a duck, with de Silva going on to waste Sri Lanka’s review, which could potentially have saved Kusal Perera later on.
In general, this was not an evening of good decision-making from Sri Lanka’s batsmen. Kusal Perera’s lbw (he had actually got a thin inside edge to that ball from Mehidy Hasan) left the team 38 for 4, not long before Angelo Mathews compounded Sri Lanka’s woes by running out Dasun Shanaka as the pair attempted a painstaking recovery. Thisara Perera holed out soon enough, and Mathews was himself dismissed for 16 off 34 balls – trapped lbw by Rubel Hossain. That Sri Lanka even survived into the 36th over and made as many as 124 was down to a plucky tail, who hung around, despite the target being clearly out of their reach. Even the tail’s efforts were not enough to prevent a record though – this victory was Bangladesh’s biggest in terms of runs, away from home.
Although Mushfiqur had a little luck early on – having been dropped in the 10th over – his was nevertheless a terrific innings. He had begun slowly, playing out a maiden against the red-hot Malinga, before later producing Bangladesh’s first boundary of the match, off the last ball of the eighth over. He built steadily alongside Mithun, taking an especial liking to Sri Lanka’s finger-spinners, often venturing down the track to them, sometimes to hit boundaries.
Although after Mithun fell, Mahmudullah and Mosaddek Hossain followed in quick succession, Mushfiqur batted efficiently with the tail, looking for boundaries at the start of each over, and singles towards the end. Despite his best efforts, the lower order batsmen continued to perish, however, and Bangladesh found themselves nine down in the 47th over, which should have been the end of their innings given one of their batsmen had suffered a fractured wrist earlier in the innings.
Tamim, though, made the courageous decision to bat again, with his bottom hand in a cast. He hid that injured left hand behind his body, and rode out a Suranga Lakmal ball at his ribs, to hand the strike over to Mushfiqur, who didn’t disappoint. Mushfiqur moved expertly around the crease to smoke a spate of valuable late boundaries, moving past his previous best ODI score of 117, while twice making sure to take a single off the last ball of the over, to ensure Tamim did not have to face another ball. Mushfiqur had hit successive sixes off the first two balls of the final over, bowled by Thisara Perera, before he holed out attempting a third six. His valiant hand would turn out to be more than enough for Bangladesh to claim an important first victory in the tournament.