Mushfiqur, bowlers help Bangladesh crush Sri Lanka

Sri Lanka’s batting began with a flourish, similar to how they started with the ball. But then things came a cropper for them in all departments, resulting in Bangladesh kick-starting their Asia Cup campaign with a big win in Dubai on Saturday (September 15).

Opting to bat, Bangladesh rode on Mushfiqur Rahim’s fine knock of 144 to overcome a couple of collapses and post a total of 261. The bowlers then came up with a clinical performance, with Mashrafe Mortaza, Mustafizur Rahman and Mehidy Hasan picking up two wickets apiece, to bowl out Sri Lanka for 124.

Upul Tharanga started off with great intent, smashing Mortaza for a big six over long-off, off just the second ball of the innings. He continued in the same way, smashing Mustafizur for successive boundaries. But the bowler dismissed Mendis for a golden duck – using a review successfully – and the innings never recovered from there.

Soon Tharanga chopped one on and Dhananjaya de Silva fell lbw to Mortaza. It got worse when Kusal Perera was adjudged lbw to Mehidy Hasan as the scorecard read 38 for 4. Dasun Shanaka and Angelo Mathews tried to rebuild the innings even as the former got a life when two fielders misjudged a skier and left the ball untouched. But a mix-up between the duo saw Shanaka lose his wicket and then Rubel Hossain’s sharp inducker trapped the Sri Lankan captain in front.

That was the game and the rest of the batsmen just delayed the inevitable with Dilruwan Perera waging a lone battle. In the end, it was a harrowing loss for Sri Lanka who looked woefully out of sorts with the bat. At the same time, it was a truly commendable effort from Bangladesh who were well-led by Mortaza on the field after an inspirational innings from Mushfiqur with the bat.

Earlier, it was Rahim’s fighting century which took his side to 261 after they were 3 for 2 at one stage. They were jolted by the comeback man – Lasith Malinga, who took two wickets in the opening over. It got worse when Tamim Iqbal went off with a blow to the forearm and it was later learnt that he was ruled out of the tournament with a fractured wrist. But that didn’t stop him from coming out at the fall of the ninth wicket and remained with Rahim as the latter teed off at the end.

Rahim’s 131-run stand with Mohammad Mithun for the third wicket rebuilt the innings after the early blows. The duo weathered the initial spell from Malinga and Suranga Lakmal before scoring freely against the spinners. Mithun was the aggressor as his senior partner played second fiddle.

But the stand was broken by the returning Malinga who again triggered a middle-order collapse. When it looked like Rahim would run out of partners as he neared his century, Mustafizur hung around to help him get there. And then Tamim’s brave act added more gloss to Bangladesh’s finish, with Rahim flaying the Sri Lankan attack.

Battling extreme conditions and often struggling with the heat and humidity, Rahim never let his guard down. He was dropped on 10 and 85, and made the most of those mistakes. Eventually it turned out to be a special innings as his side finished comfortable victors.

Brief scores: Bangladesh 261 in 49.3 overs (Mushfiqur Rahim 144, Mohammad Mithun 63; Lasith Malinga 4-23) beat Sri Lanka 124 in 35.2 overs (Dilruwan Perera 29; Mustafizur Rahman 2-20, Mehidy Hasan 2-21) by 137 runs.

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