Image courtesy of: ESPNcricinfo
Sri Lanka opener Kusal Mendis struck a career-best 70 to not only lead his side to a 75-run win over Bangladesh in the second Twenty20 International in Sylhet, but also hand them a 2-0 series win.
Being put in to bat first, Sri Lanka got off to a brilliant start as openers Danushka Gunathilaka and Kusal amassed a 98-run partnership, during which Kusal brought up his half-century.
With Sri Lanka cruising, Bangladesh were in desperate need of a wicket, but they had to wait until the 11th over to get it when Gunathilaka was dismissed by Soumya Sarkar for a 37-ball 42, which included three boundaries and two sixes.
Kusal and Thisara Perera kept the runs flowing with a 51-run stand before Thisara was caught by Sarkar at long-off off the bowling of debutant Abu Jayed for 31.
Kusal went on to make 70 off 42 balls, which included six boundaries and three sixes, before he was sent packing by Mustafizur Rahman.
Even though Upul Tharanga fell shortly after, Dasun Shanaka’s unbeaten 30 off just 11 deliveries helped Sri Lanka finish on 210/4.
Jayed, Mustafizur, Sarkar and Mohammad Saifuddin picked up one wicket apiece.
Chasing 211 to win, Bangladesh made a horrible start to their innings as they lost Sarkar in the second over.
Mushfiqur Rahim, who scored six runs, was on his way back to the pavilion the very next over as he was caught by Thisara at mid-on off the bowling of Shehan Madushanka.
Madushanka struck again three balls later as Mohammad Mithun spooned a catch to mid-on after making five runs.
Tamim Iqbal scored 29 before falling to debutant Amila Aponso, while Ariful Haqur was given out lbw off the bowling of Jeevan Mendis for two runs.
Stand-in captain Mahmudullah and Saifuddin temporarily kept Sri Lanka at bay with a 42-run partnership before Mahmudullah was run out for a 31-ball 41, which included four boundaries and a six.
Saifuddin went on to make 20 before he was removed by Isuru Udana.
Once Saifuddin was gone, Bangladesh crumbled and ended up being skittled out for 135.
Madushanka and Gunathilaka took two wickets apiece, while Mendis, Udana, Aponso, Shanaka and Akila Dananjaya claimed one wicket each.
Mahmudullah was disappointed with his side’s performance, and said: “It was a score that I felt we could chase, but for that we needed a good start. But we kept losing wickets, didn’t get any momentum. And guess we didn’t bowl well too. The wicket was good to bat on – when the dew came in, the batting was good too. Not much for the spinners either.
“If we would’ve stopped them at 180-odd, then we could’ve chased it down. We need to sit together ahead of the Nidahas trophy and figure out how we can chase 180, and how our bowlers can keep the damage low. Shakib is a champion player, so yeah, we missed him with both ball and bat. Special congratulations to the SL team for how they played.”
Sri Lanka stand-in captain Dinesh Chandimal was thrilled to have won 2-0, and said: “It’s a tough call, how Kusal Perera comes back (laughs again). Mendis batted really well, we thought he can carry the bat through his innings, and he did. It’s been a really good series as a team.
“We lost the first two ODIs, really badly. We picked ourselves up after that. We didn’t play like a team, we played like a family. So finally results came through. 2017 was tough, so this is a really good start. Hope the boys do their best moving forward – we have a good combo of young and old.”
Mendis was named Man of the Match and Man of the Series, and said: “Although I got only 83 runs in the ODIs, I trained very hard and worked very hard with the coaches to continue with my normal game. Bowlers and batsmen both worked hard and executed their plans. Personally, I’m very happy to win this for the team. Not sure how Kusal Perera will come back (laughs), but I’m sure he’ll find a way back.”