Bangladesh, having already proven equal to their hosts in the other two formats, produced yet another clinical performance to win the Second and Final Twenty20 International against Sri Lanka at the R. Premadasa Stadium yesterday while splitting the series one-a-piece.
Bangladesh were restricted to 176, having been 101 for two after 10 overs, with Lasith Malinga producing another moment of magic taking his first T20I hat-trick – the fourth of his international career.
But Sri Lanka were never in control of the chase losing five wickets – the first three of those to spinners – for 40 runs inside the powerplay overs. And barring a 58-run partnership between Chamara Kapugedera and Thisara Perera they failed to muster much of a challenge, folding up 45 runs short of the target, thanks to an abject performance at the top of the order.
First match hero Kusal Perera lasted just two balls of the innings, scoring a boundary off the first and chopping on Shakib al Hasan off the second before his opening partner Dilshan Munaweera was Shakib’s second wicket two overs later.
Captain Upul Tharanga, dropped by his counterpart Mashrafe Mortaza, mistimed a pull-shot that ended up in the hands of the midwicket fielder in the fifth over with Mustafizur Raheem striking with the first two balls of the next to remove Asela Gunaratne and Milinda Siriwardena both caught on the off-side, crippling the hosts at 40 for five.
A sixth wicket partnership between Chamara Kapugedera and Thisara Perera only gave Sri Lanka false hope, with Shakib, returning for his third over, having the latter stumped for 27, and leaving the hosts needing 79 to win off 43 balls.
Sri Lanka’s other big hitter Seekkuge Prasanna was bowled for 11 and Kapugedera – having just scored his first T20I half-century – was caught by Mehedi Hasan, both off Raheem’s bowling in the 17th over, virtually sealing the game for Bangladesh.
Malinga was bowled four balls later and Vikum Sanjaya caught not long after to give Bangladesh the series levelling win, and Mortaza, playing his last T20 international, the perfect send-off.
Exceptional death bowling had earlier helped Sri Lanka claw back the Bangladesh innings, which at one stage was streaking towards a total closer to 200.
After opting to bat again, Bangladesh openers Imrul Kayes and Soumya Sarkar plundered 67 runs inside the powerplay overs as Sri Lanka struggled to force an early breakthrough.
A tough chance that flew just above the mid-off fielder was the only real opportunity Sri Lanka could muster as Vikum Sanjaya and part-timer Dilshan Munaweera proved expensive powerplay options conceding 40 runs in three overs between them – Sanjaya conceding 18 in the one over he bowled in that period.
Both batsmen were dismissed in quick succession soon after – Gunaratne catching Sarkar off his own bowling for 34 from 17 balls, and Kayes running himself out attempting a quick single scoring 36 – but that did little to curb the scoring rate as Shakib and Sabbir Rahman kept Bangladesh on track for a big total.
Shakib – twice put down, albeit off difficult chances – scored a majority of the 46 runs he put on for the third-wicket with Rahman before Sanjaya redeemed himself by bowling the latter for 19 in the 14th over.
Two good overs for Sri Lanka followed, with Bangladesh managing just seven runs before scoring just 33 off the last four. Shakib’s wicket for 38 at the end of the 16th over, put a skid on the visitors’ innings, with Mossadek Hossain – who took a boundary and a six off the next over – bowled by Thisara Perera at the beginning of the 18th.
But it was the penultimate over though that highlighted the excellent comeback by the Sri Lankan bowlers, when Malinga claimed the wickets of Mushfiqur Rahim, Mortaza and Mehedi Hasan – all deceived by clever slower balls aimed at the stumps.