On Sunday, Sri Lanka defeated Bangladesh by five wickets in a tense T20 World Cup match, cementing their status as surprise title contenders.
Charith Asalanka (80 not out) and Bhanuka Rajapaksa (53) led the 2014 champions to victory, their fourth consecutive victory after three victories in the qualifying round.
Earlier, Mushfiqur Rahim, who hit an unbeaten 57, and opener Mohammad Naim, who hit 62, both shone for Bangladesh in the Super 12 game after being put in to bat.
The other teams in the group are England, Australia, South Africa, and the West Indies, with the top two advancing to the semi-finals.
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“I am delighted to have hit a winning knock for my country,” Asalanka said after scoring the winning runs off a boundary with seven balls to spare.
“When I faced the first pitch, it appeared to be a good pitch, and I trusted myself to play my natural game.” Rajapaksa hit a brilliant six that changed the momentum.”
Asalanka hit five boundaries and five sixes off 49 balls as he and Rajapaksa put on 86 for the fourth wicket.
Liton Das dropped both men, with Rajapaksa getting a reprieve after only 14 days.
The only bright spot for Bangladesh in the field was Shakib Al Hasan’s two wickets in four balls to dismiss Pathum Nissanka and Aviskha Fernando.
This enabled the veteran all-rounder to surpass Pakistan’s Shahid Afridi’s record of 41 victims in the T20 World Cups.
“I believed 171 could be defended.” Liton and Naim got us off to a great start. “Mushfiq played a brilliant inning,” Bangladesh captain Mahmudullah Riyad said.
“We were in it until the tenth over.” But then everything went wrong for us.
Bangladesh had reached 40 points by the sixth over before losing their first wicket and sparks flew.
Liton Das (16) was caught at mid-off by Sri Lanka captain Dasun Shanaka while attempting to hoist Lahiru Kumara into the outfield.
Liton and Kumara, on the other hand, exchanged angry words, with fellow Bangladesh opener Naim pushing Kumara away.
Before the game could resume, both umpires had to step in.
Kumara then bowled a ‘beamer’ at Mushfiqur in the penultimate over, forcing the Bangladesh player to take evasive action.
Naim scored 62 off 52 balls before being caught and bowled by Binura Fernando in the 17th over.
As Bangladesh picked up the pace, Naim and Mushfiqur Rahim put on 73 for the third wicket.
Mushfiqur’s sixth T20 half-century came off 32 balls, with four boundaries and two sixes.
Sri Lanka were missing key spinner Maheesh Theekshana, who had eight wickets in three qualifying matches as Sri Lanka advanced to the Super 12 stage. The 21-year-old was suffering from a back injury.
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