Tuesday, June 25, 2024

Match Report – BAN vs SL 15th Match, Group D, June 07, 2024

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Bangladesh 125 for 8 (Hridoy 40, Litton 36, Thushara 4-18) beat Sri Lanka 124 for 9 (Nissanka 47, Mustafizur 3-17, Rishad 3-22) by two wickets

Nuwan Thushara‘s last over brought Sri Lanka screaming back into the match late in the contest. He first bowled Rishad Hossain, and then nailed Taskin Ahmed in front of the stumps with a pinpoint swinging yorker. This left Bangladesh eight wickets down, with 12 runs still to get, and the game looked set to turn on its head.

However, the experienced Mahmudullah was at the crease for Bangladesh, and despite some further nervy moments, pushed his side across the line off the last ball of the 19th over to give his side victory in their opening encounter of T20 World Cup 2024.

The late Sri Lanka surge aside, this was a match chiefly decided by Bangladesh’s own outstanding bowling in the first innings. Mustafizur Rahman was the best among them, using shorter lengths and his cutters efficiently, to claim figures of 3 for 17. Rishad’s three-for through the middle overs also pegged Sri Lanka back.

Mustafizur was especially instrumental in Sri Lanka’s downward spiral through the middle overs, which culminated in a crash-and-burn end. Ultimately, Sri Lanka’s inability to find boundaries, or even rotate strike against good Bangladesh bowling resulted in their downfall. A score of 125 for 9 always seemed poor on a decent pitch, even if their bowlers made a match of it in the end.

The tight finish

It should never have got so close. With five overs to go, Bangladesh had only 25 runs left to get, five wickets in hand, and their two most experienced batters – Shakib Al Hasan and Mahmudullah – were at the crease.

But then Shakib uppercut a Matheesha Pathirana short ball, and Maheesh Theekshana took an outstanding diving catch at deep third, surging in from the rope to intercept the ball inches from the ground.

And then Sri Lanka’s other slinger, Thushara, took two wickets in two balls in the next over – the 18th of the innings, first bowling Rishad who had tried to hit him inside out over cover, and then nailing Taskin with a toe-crusher that would have hit leg stump.

Thushara had three more balls left in the over, with Bangladesh still needing 12. Sri Lanka’s best chance of stealing victory was for him to get another wicket before his spell ended. But Tanzim Hasan Sakib survived, and Mahmudullah was on strike next over.

Next over, bowled by Dasun Shanaka (Sri Lanka had used up all their frontliners hunting for wickets), Mahmudullah bludgeoned a thigh-high full toss into the deep square leg stands to ease Bangladesh’s nerves.

But there was more drama to come. With two runs needed – but desperate to keep strike off the last ball of the 19th over – Mahmudullah ventured a risky single to mid-off, and would have been out had Wanindu Hasaranga connected with his shy at the stumps. But the Sri Lanka captain didn’t, and the overthrows helped Bangladesh limp over the line.

Bangladesh boss bowling death overs

The definitive period of play, though, were the last seven overs of Sri Lanka’s innings. They had arrived at the start of the 14th over in okay shape – 100 runs on the board and seven wickets in hand.

But then they nosedived. Rishad first dismissed Charith Asalanka, having him caught slog sweeping at deep square leg, after his teammates had kept Asalanka quiet through much of the middle overs. Next ball, he had Hasaranga caught at slip with a ball that dipped and gripped.

This double strike pushed Sri Lanka into a tailspin, losing their next six wickets for 25 runs. Only one boundary would be hit in the last six overs, as batters repeatedly tried cross-batted shots against bowlers varying their pace and got themselves out, almost in frustration. Rishad got his three wickets in this period, and Taskin, Mustafizur, and Tanzim Hasan got one each.

Nissanka’s bright start

That Sri Lanka even got to 125, rather than crashing out in double figures as they did against South Africa, was down to their best batter – opener Pathum Nissanka. He struck seven fours and a six, favouring the leg side, and maintained a strike rate of 168 across his 28-ball innings.

The turning point for Sri Lanka’s innings, after which they struck only two intentional boundaries (seriously), was when Mustafizur dismissed Nissanka with a cutter towards the end of the ninth over. Until that point, Sri Lanka’s run rate was above 7.50. Afterwards, it was less than five.

Hridoy’s sixes

Given how close the match was in the end, Towhid Hridoy‘s four sixes – all of them against Hasaranga – also had an impact. Three of them came back to back to back, at the start of the 12th over. The first two came off slog sweeps, and the third off a beautiful inside-out shot over cover.

Hasaranga would trap him lbw next ball, but Hridoy had already landed the important blows. It was these sixes that gave Bangladesh the room to stutter towards the end and still win with two wickets in hand and one over to spare.

Andrew Fidel Fernando is a senior writer at ESPNcricinfo. @afidelf


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