Cricket

Kusal Mendis shines as Sri Lanka end T20I rut


SRI LANKA TOUR OF BANGLADESH, 2018

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Mendis made 53 off 27 balls. © AFP

Bangladesh just can’t find a way through to a win. Not even with their highest total in Twenty20 Internationals on the board. Having scored a handsome 193 for 5 after choosing to bat first at the Shere Bangla National Stadium in Dhaka, Bangladesh fell prey to Sri Lanka again in what now feels like a never-ending stretch of defeats, losing the first T20I by 6 wickets to concede a 1-0 lead in the two-match series.

Danushka Gunathilaka set the run-chase into motion early with a barrage of boundaries. He was stumped by Mushfiqur Rahim off the bowling of Nazmul Islam in the fifth over, giving the debutant his maiden T20I wicket but the runs didn’t stop there. Gunathilaka’s co-opener, Kusal Mendis, who replaced an injured Kusal Perera in the squad, laid into Bangladesh with his maiden half-century and got Sri Lanka into an indomitable position. On his dismissal off Afif Hossain in the eighth over, Dasun Shanaka walked in at No. 4 and cracked 42 off 24 balls (3 fours, 3 sixes) to rattle Bangladesh and take Sri Lanka home.

One could have been forgiven for being a bit dazed at the start of this game. Largely due to injuries, Bangladesh fielded as many as four debutants in Afif Hossain, Ariful Haque, Nazmul Islam and Zakir Hasan while Sri Lanka handed a maiden cap to Shehan Madushanka. But that’s not it. When Madushanka bowled the first ball to his co-debutant Hasan, he had the ball flying off the shoulder of the bat over the short third man. The Mirpur pitch certainly hasn’t taken kindly to the “below average” rating by ICC.

Bangladesh, although in a loss, put in a refreshingly aggressive performance with the bat earlier. Already without their regular captain Shakib Al Hasan, the hosts had to cope with the absence of an injured Tamim Iqbal too. And they did that deftly, with Soumya Sarkar stepping up with a 32-ball 51 and actuating Bangladesh’s second-highest powerplay score of 71 for 1 in the process. All that was undone by Jeevan Mendis’s first over though, where he picked the important wickets of Sarkar and Hossain to celebrate his first T20I game since 2013 in style.

Mahmudullah, the stand-in captain, and Rahim then put on a 73-run stand but the former’s untimely wicket to Isuru Udana in the nineteenth overtook the steam off and kept the hosts to a total below 200, something that certainly looked on midway into the innings.

Mendis was chosen the Man of the Match for setting up the tall chase that Shanaka and Perera (39 off 18) helped polish off with 20 balls to spare. As a result, Sri Lanka broke out of the rut of eight consecutive losses in T20Is.

Brief Scores: Bangladesh 193/5 in 20 overs (Mushfiqur Rahim 66, Soumya Sarkar 51; Jeevan Mendis 2-21) lost to Sri Lanka 194/4 in 16.4 overs (Kusal Mendis 53, Dasun Shanaka 42; Nazmul Islam 2-25) by 6 wickets

© Cricbuzz

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