SHARAH, United Arab Emirates (AP)Half centuries by Charith Asalanka and Bhanuka Rajapaksa rallied former T20 World Cup champion Sri Lanka to a five-wicket victory over a sloppy Bangladesh side in their bad-tempered opening Super 12 match on Sunday.
Asalanka made a splendid unbeaten 80 from 49 balls and Rajapaksa smashed 53 from 31 to help carry Sri Lanka to 172-5 with seven balls to spare.
Earlier, Bangladesh posted a challenging total of 171-4 after being put in to bat.
”It was not the easiest target to chase but once batsmen are set, any target can be chased,” Sri Lanka captain Dasun Shanaka said.
”It was an outstanding innings from Asalanka. It’s very important that youngsters step up at this stage, it was really nice to see that.”
Bangladesh got off to a fiery start with opening batsman Liton Das getting involved in an altercation with Sri Lanka fast bowler Lahiru Kumara after the fast bowler dismissed him.
Both players came face to face before being separated by Sri Lanka players as Das’ teammate Mohammad Naim also got involved, shoving Kumara. Das and Kumara exchanged heated words before the Bangladesh opener left the field.
The unexpected match-up in Group 1 between the two Asian countries was made possible after Bangladesh’s unexpected loss to Scotland in the qualifiers.
Sri Lanka was cruising at 71-1 when Shakib Al Hasan’s twin strikes in his first over pulled back the 2014 World Cup winner.
Shakib became the T20 World Cup all-time leading wicket-taker with 41, two ahead of Pakistan’s Shahid Afridi, when he clean bowled Pathum Nissanka and Avishka Fernando.
His earlier on-field altercation seemed to affect Das, who dropped both Asalanka and Rajapaksa, which proved costly later when Asalanka smashed five fours and five sixes while Rajapaksa hit three fours and three sixes.
In Bangladesh’s innings, Mohammad Naim (62) and Mushfiqur Rahim (57) smartly read the slow wicket at the Sharjah Cricket Stadium, which was relaid last year. Mushfiqur used all his experience to play several exquisite square cuts and was not afraid to pull short deliveries to mid-wicket for his two sixes.
Sri Lanka appeared to be satisfied with its start and cut short premier leg-spinner Wanindu Hasaranga’s participation short of his four overs after returning figures of 0-29 from the three he bowled.
”I thought 171 could be defended,” Bangladesh captain Mahmudullah said. ”We were in the game ’till the tenth over, but things went wrong for us after that. We will correct that in the next game.”
England and Australia, which won their opening games against West Indies and South Africa respectively, on Saturday are the other nations in Group 1.
More AP cricket: https://apnews.com/hub/cricket and https://twitter.com/AP-Sports