Image courtesy of: ESPNcricinfo
Perera was named Man of the Match for his sparkling half-century
Sri Lanka opening batsman Kusal Perera hammered an entertaining half-century as his side escaped with a two-run win in a heart-racing last ball showdown against Bangladesh in the first Twenty20 International in Chittagong.
Bangladesh batsman Anamul Haque deserves a lot of credit as well as he smashed a fabulous half-century before getting out on the last ball of Bangladesh’s innings when they required just three runs to win.
Bangladesh stand-in captain Mashrafe Mortaza would have been pleased with his decision to bowl first initially as he himself clean bowled Sri Lanka opening batsman Tillakaratne Dilshan for a duck.
However, Perera and captain Dinesh Chandimal made up for the early loss of Dilshan with a 54-run partnership before Chandimal was caught by Farhad Reza at long-off off the bowling of Shakib Al Hasan for 18.
Kumar Sangakkara only scored 11 runs before he was brilliantly caught by Nasir Hossain off the bowling of Al Hasan.
Seekkuge Prasanna fared no better as he made four runs before also being caught by Hossain, but only off the bowling of debutant Arafat Sunny.
While Sri Lanka were losing wickets at regular intervals, Perera stood strong and brought up his half-century, but failed to convert it into a bigger score as he was caught by Haque at midwicket off the bowling of Sunny.
Perera’s fantastic knock of 64 came off 44 balls and included seven boundaries and a six.
Angelo Mathews accumulated 11 runs before he was run out by Mortaza.
Sri Lanka were able to reach 168/7 at the end of their 20 overs thanks to Nuwan Kulasekara’s quickfire 31 off 21 balls, which included one boundary and two sixes.
Mortaza, Sunny and Al Hasan all picked up two wickets apiece.
Chasing 169 to win, Bangladesh got off to an excellent start as their opening pair of Tamim Iqbal and Shamsur Rahman put together a 52-run partnership before Rahman was caught and bowled by Ajantha Mendis for 22.
Iqbal ended up making 30 before he was caught by Mathews at midwicket off the bowling of Thisara Perera.
Al Hasan managed to make 26 runs before he was clean bowled by Kulasekara.
Hossain smashed a rapid 16 runs before he was caught by Thisara Perera at mid-off off the bowling of Lasith Malinga.
Debutant Mithun Ali failed to trouble the scorers as he was caught by Mathews at short midwicket off the bowling of Kulasekara.
Reza only scored seven runs before he was run out by Thisara Perera.
Needing 17 runs to win off the last over, Haque smashed 14 runs off the first five balls.
With Bangladesh needing three runs to upset the top-ranked Twenty20 side in the world, Haque failed to lead his side to victory as he was caught and bowled by Thisara Perera for a valiant 58 off 45 balls, which included seven boundaries.
Kulasekara and Thisara Perera were the pick of the Sri Lankan bowlers with two wickets apiece, while Malinga and Mendis snapped up one wicket each.
Despite coming up just short in their chase, Mortaza was pleased with his team’s fighting spirit, and said: “[The] Boys played really well and we were really close. Nasir has been a champion fielder for us. Anamul played very well.
“I’m happy with my own comeback, but I could have done much better. The last year we’ve played really well and we can fight with Sri Lanka. A big tournament is coming up for us and this series is a good opportunity to figure ourselves out.”
Chandimal was relieved to have taken a 1-0 lead after a nail-biting encounter, and said: “[I’m] Really happy. Kusal made a good start, Nuwan batted well. I’m full of beans again. It’s a good opportunity before the World Twenty20. This is our World Cup venue, so we’re trying to take advantage. Bangladesh played very well.”
Kusal Perera was named Man of the Match for his magnificent innings.
“They bowled in very good areas, so I tried to score quickly in the first few overs, then get settled down,” he said. “Team-wise we are very confident about the World Twenty20 – it’s going very well.”