Champika Fernando reporting from Dubai
Lasith Malinga returned to international cricket with a bang claiming four wickets in his first match in 12 months, but the butterfingered Sri Lankans have themselves to blame for the crushing 137 run defeat against Bangladesh in the opening fixture of the Asia Cup here at the Dubai International Cricket Stadium last night.
Bangladesh needed just 35.2 overs to bowl Sri Lanka out for 124—their lowest total against Bangladesh as Sri Lanka were like a deer caught in the headlights, making for a sensational collapse in the chase. The defeat put Sri Lanka in a must-win situation against Afghanistan on Sunday to stay in contention for a Super Fours spot in the six-nation tournament contested by the regions heavy weights.
Sri Lanka’s chase got off to a flying start when Upul Tharanga smashed 13 runs off the opening over including a six and four off Mashrafe Mortaza but their journey was derailed by a smart bowling effort by the Bangladeshis who made inroads to Sri Lanka’s innings at regular intervals.
Leading into yesterday’s opener, Sri Lanka may have done everything under the sun including training sessions in match situations back at home but nothing seems to have helped them get out of the rut they've been stuck in during the last several months.
Sri Lanka’s fielding has been a point of major discussion for many moons. They have repeatedly leaked runs and missed catches. This was once again in full exhibition as at least four catches were dropped, including one off a no-ball yesterday—the main reason for embarrassing defeat.
After being put on to bat first, Sri Lanka placed themselves in a strong position through a magnificent seam bowling effort from comeback man Lasith Malinga and Suranga Lakmal, giving away just 24 runs off the first 10 overs and picking the wickets of Liton Das and Shakib Al Hasan. But the scorecard would have been a completely different picture had Sri Lanka picked up the wickets of Mohammed Mithun and Mushfiqur Rahim when they offered fairly straightforward chances in the first ten overs.
Angleo Mathews, who has repeatedly denied Sri Lanka’s fielding woes, dropped Mithun on one, off Lasith Malinga, when the batsman chipped into the mid-on area. A diving Mathews got his hand onto the ball but a lack of balance saw it popping out of his hand. This offered a second life to the Bangladeshis.
In the same over, though on a no-ball, Amila Aponsu dropped Mithun at fine leg boundary. But the costliest was when Sri Lanka let off centurion Mushfiqur twice during his marathon innings of 144 off 150 balls. Mushfiqur was on just ten when Dilruwan Perera dropped him at square leg—a fairly easy opportunity. After that mistake, Mushfiqur has powered his way to 85 runs having shared 131 for the third wicket with Mithun when Dhananjaya de Silva dropped a sitter on his own bowling. Probably the best fielder in the side, Dhananjaya cupped his hands to take the catch but the ball hit his writs and fell to his left. Mushfiqur added 59 runs thereafter to score his career-best ODI score—the second highest score by a Bangladesh player in limited over cricket.
Early on, however, it was all happening for the islanders. Malinga, the veteran seamer, was at his brutal best as he breathed fire on a lively track as he struck in his maiden over removing opener Linton Das and one-drop Shakib Al Hasan off the last two deliveries to put Sri Lanka in a strong position before they let the advantage slip out of their hands. Das was caught at first slip by Kusal Mendis while a perfect inswinging Yorker crashed into Shakib’s stumps to leave the thousands of Bangladesh supporters in shock.
In his second spell, Malinga had Mithun caught behind for a well composed 63 runs, his maiden half century, and Mosaddek Hossain to put Sri Lanka once again back in the game but Rahim stole the show with a boisterous knock and thrust Sri Lanka out of the contest.
Malinga was the pick of the bowlers, returning figures of 4/23 while off-spinner Dhananjaya de Silva also returned figures of 2 for 38. Bangladesh suffered a major blow in form of their top-order with batsman Tamim Iqbal being ruled out of the entire tournament with a broken wrist. Tamim took a blow on his wrist early in the match from a delivery by Suranga Lakmal. However, he returned to bat at the fall of the ninth wicket. His heroic act will also be remembered by one and all as he came out despite having retired hurt with a fractured wrist. Tamim allowed Mushfiqur to have one final blast during the slog overs.
Tamim Iqbal Not Out 2
Liton Das c Kusal Mendis b Lasith Malinga 0
Shakib Al Hasan b Lasith Malinga 0
Mushfiqur Rahim c Kusal Mendis b Thisara Perera 144
Mohammad Mithun c Kusal Perera b Lasith Malinga 63
Mahmudullah c Dhananjaya de Silva b Amila Aponso 1
Mosaddek Hossain c Kusal Perera b Lasith Malinga 1
Mehedi Hasan c&b Suranga Lakmal 15
Mashrafe Mortaza c Upul Tharanga b Dhananjaya de Silva 11
Rubel Hossain lbw Dhananjaya de Silva 2
Mustafizur Rahman Run Out Kusal Mendis 10
Extras 0b 4lb 1nb 0pen 7w 12
Total (49.3 overs) 261 all out
Fall of Wickets : 1-1 Das, 2-1 Al Hasan, 3-134 Ali, 4-136 Mahmudullah, 5-142 Saikat, 6-175 Miraz, 7-195 Mortaza, 8-203 Hossain, 9-229 Rahman, 10-261 Rahim
Bowling Ov Md Rn Wk Econ Ex
Lasith Malinga 10 2 23 4 2.30 3w 1nb
Suranga Lakmal 10 0 46 1 4.60 1w
Amila Aponso 9 0 55 1 6.11
Thisara Perera 7.3 0 51 1 6.80 1w
Dilruwan Perera 3 0 25 0 8.33
Dhananjaya de Silva 7 0 38 2 5.43 1w
Dasun Shanaka 3 0 19 0 6.33
Upul Tharanga b Mashrafe Mortaza 27
Kusal Mendis lbw Mustafizur Rahman 0
Kusal Perera lbw Mehedi Hasan 11
Dhananjaya de Silva lbw Mashrafe Mortaza 0
Angelo Mathews lbw Rubel Hossain 16
Dasun Shanaka Run Out Shakib Al Hasan 7
Thisara Perera c Rubel Hossain b Mehedi Hasan 6
Dilruwan Perera st Liton Das b Mosaddek Hossain 29
Suranga Lakmal b Mustafizur Rahman 20
Amila Aponso c (Sub) b Shakib Al Hasan 4
Lasith Malinga Not Out 3
Extras 0b 1lb 0nb 0pen 0w 1
Total (35.2 overs) 124 all out
Fall of Wickets : 1-22 Mendis, 2-28 Tharanga, 3-32 de Silva, 4-38 Perera, 5-60 Shanaka, 6-63 Mathews, 7-69 Perera, 8-96 Lakmal, 9-120 Perera, 10-124 Aponso
Bowling Ov Md Rn Wk Econ Ex
Mashrafe Mortaza 6 2 25 2 4.17
Mustafizur Rahman 6 0 20 2 3.33
Mehedi Hasan 7 1 21 2 3.00
Shakib Al Hasan 9.2 0 31 1 3.32
Rubel Hossain 4 0 18 1 4.50
Mosaddek Hossain 3 0 8 1 2.67