Image courtesy of: ESPNcricinfo
Bangladesh batsman Mushfiqur Rahim struck a career-best 144 to lead his side to a 137-run win over Sri Lanka in the opening match of the Asia Cup.
Choosing to bat first, Bangladesh made an awful start to their innings as on the fifth ball, opener Liton Das was caught by Kusal Mendis at first slip off the bowling of Lasith Malinga, who was playing in his first ODI since September 2017.
Malinga struck again the very next ball as he clean bowled Shakib Al Hasan for a golden duck.
Things went from bad to worse in the second over as Tamim Iqbal was forced to retire hut after being struck on the wrist by a delivery from Suranga Lakmal.
With Bangladesh in absolute tatters, Rahim and Mohammad Mithun came to the rescue as they forged a 134-run partnership, during which both batmen surpassed their half-centuries.
Mithun went on to score a career-best 63, which came off 68 balls and included five boundaries and two sixes, before he was caught behind off the bowling of Malinga.
Mahmudullah fell shortly after, while Mosaddek Hossain became Malinga’s fourth victim after scoring just a run.
Bangladesh continued to lose wickets at regular intervals, but when they were 229/9, Tamim returned and batted one-handed as he had been diagnosed with a fractured wrist.
Rahim frustrated Sri Lanka through the period where they were making breakthroughs, and proceeded to bring up his hundred.
Ultimately, Rahim made 144, which came off 150 balls and included 11 boundaries and four sixes, before he was dismissed by Thisara Perera.
However, thanks to Rahim, Bangladesh made 261 before being bowled out.
Malinga was the pick of the bowlers with four wickets, while Dhananjaya de Silva took two, and Lakmal, Thisara and Amila Aponso chipped in with one wicket apiece.
Chasing 262 to win, Sri Lanka got off to a brisk start before Mendis was trapped lbw off the bowling of Mustafizur Rahman for a golden duck.
Mendis wasn’t given out initially, but Bangladesh reviewed the decision and their gamble paid off as replays showed the ball was pitching in line and going on to hit the stumps.
Upul Tharanga made a 16-ball 27 before being cleaned up by Bangladesh captain Mashrafe Mortaza.
With De Silva and Kusal Perera falling shortly after, Sri Lanka were in all sorts of trouble at 38/4.
Sri Lanka skipper Angelo Mathews and Dasun Shanaka managed to add 22 runs to the score before Shanaka was run out by Shakib for seven runs.
Mathews ended up making 16 before he was given out lbw off the bowling of Rubel Hossain.
Thisara only made six, while Lakmal scored 20 as Sri Lanka were reduced to 96/8 in the 26th over.
Dilruwan Perera and Aponso added 24 runs before Dilruwan was stumped by Liton Das off the bowling of Mosaddek for 29.
Sri Lanka were skittled out for 124 when Aponso was sent packing by Shakib for four runs.
Mortaza, Mustafizur and Mehidy Hasan Miraz snapped up two wickets apiece, while Shakib, Rubel and Mosaddek claimed one wicket each.
Mathews was less than impressed with his side’s performance, and said: “It was a pretty bad effort from the whole team. We let them off the hook by dropping too many catches, and Mushi batted extremely well. When we batted, we made a lot of bad decisions. It was a good batting surface.”
Mortaza was thrilled to have won, and said: “Thanks to Mushfiqur and Mithun. Losing two wickets early is always pressure, but the way they batted it’s nice to see. I think the word for Tamim is that ‘people should always remember him’, the way our seniors are performing, it’s really promising.
“I think we can improve a lot, the way we lose wickets. And also Mithun was out at the wrong time, and we could’ve made 280-290 if he wasn’t out. The fielding has to be better as well.
“I want to speak in Bangla with the fans. The way you have come to UAE to support us, the victory is for you. Thanks to all Prabashi Bengalis (Non-resident Bangladeshis).”
Rahim was named Man of the Match, and said: “Thanks to almightly Allah. It’s really important to win the first game, and the boys were really geared up. We didn’t get the start we wanted, but credit to Mithun for taking the pressure away from me.
“After that I just took my chances and it paid off. When Tamim came out to bat, it boosted me that I should do something for him and for my country. Probably the best I’ve batted because it’s difficult to concentrate with the heat and the running between the wickets as well.
“We’ve been in great nick, but I haven’t been able to convert my starts into big innings. So that’s paid off.”