After skipper Mashrafe Bin Mortaza announced that he would retire after the two-match series against the islanders, Bangladesh put on a subpar show in all departments while the hosts grabbed a 1-0 lead at the R Premadasa Stadium on Tuesday.
Electing to bat first after their skipper Mashrafe made his decision in the toss interview, Bangladesh posted 155 for 6, thanks to a rapid start and some late resolve from Mahmudullah and Mosaddek Hossain.
Kusal then struck a blistering 77 off 53 deliveries on his return from an injury to guide Sri Lanka to a strong position.
He and Upal Tharanga gave Sri Lanka a fluent start to the chase, smashing Taskin Ahmed for 17 in the second over to signal their intent.
Mashrafe kept switching his bowlers in the first five overs in search of wicket but the openers breezed to 57 at the end of the powerplay.
After Tharanga took Taskin apart in the second over, Kusal took charge and blasted 16 off Shakib Al Hasan’s first over with two fours and a huge six.
Mashrafe picked out Tharanga (24) for a catch at leg-gulley in the over after powerplay and returned in his next over to send Dilshan Munaweera (8) back with a safely taken return catch.
But Kusal pressed on and raced to his half-century off 31 deliveries to keep Sri Lanka on track.
Bangladesh the managed to pull out some pressure on the batsmen with a couple tight overs, forcing Kusal to dance down the track and get a top edge but he survived.
Debutant Saifuddin produced another opportunity in the next over but Taskin spilled a straightforward catch at short third man.
Sabbir Rahman took out Asela Gunaratne (17) with a direct throw but Kusal appeared unfazed. He cracked one through the extra cover for another boundary in the next ball to keep Sri Lanka steaming forward.
The chase got tighter as Bangladesh bowlers allowed little room towards the death, leaving Sri Lanka needing 14 off 13 balls. But Seekkuge Prasanna released the pressure with two sixes, off Mustafizur and Taskin.
Although the young Bangladesh seamer bagged the wicket of Kusal with the first ball of the penultimate over, Prasanna (22) and Thisara Perera (4) wrapped up the win with a six and a four with seven balls to spare.
Earlier, Bangladesh were off to a brisk start as well, despite losing Tamim Iqbal in the first over. The opener was bowled for a duck in the second ball of the evening by Lasith Malinga in an eventful first over.
Bangladesh’s first runs came from a wide ball which went for a boundary over the wicketkeeper’s head before Malinga dropped a return catch from Soumya Sarkar on his follow through.
Soumya and Sabbir Rahman then counterattacked and rattled the Sri Lankan bowlers who down the wrong line too often. The duo clubbed 51 runs from the next four overs, including 17 off a Malinga over.
They clubbed five boundaries and a six, off Malinga, between them, blazing away to 57 for 1 in 5 overs but lost the plot after that.
The urge to keep motoring, however, brought about their downfall in the last over of the powerplay as Sri Lanka struck back with quick wickets.
Sabbir fell for 16, run out to a direct throw from Gunaratne at the non-striker’s end. Soumya was then frustrated by a couple of dot balls and skied pacer Vikum Sanjaya four balls later to perish for 29.
Before the Tigers could recover from the double blow, Gunaratne drove the knife deeper as Mushfiqur Rahim (8) looked to sweep one over the wicketkeeper but missed the cutter to be bowled.
Shakib tried to stay calm at one end, but did not last long either. He went down for 11 skewing Prasanna to point to leave his team reeling on 82 for 5.
Mahmudullah and Mosaddek then showed maturity and set up a competitive total with a half-century partnership.
The pair began slowly, dug in and minimised risky shots to carry Bangladesh past 100 in the 14th over. They ran hard between the wickets to keep the scoreboard ticking.
Malinga returned to the attack and stemmed the flow of runs with yorkers, before picking out Mahmudullah who tried to make room but played on to another full delivery for 31.
Mosaddek remained unbeaten on 34 with skipper Mashrafe (9).
Malinga took 2-37 while Sanjaya, Gunaratne and Prasanna chipped in with a wicket each.a wicket each.
Bangladesh: 155/6 in 20 overs (Tamim 0, Soumya 29, Sabbir 16, Mushfiqur 8, Shakib 11, Mosaddek 34*, Mahmudullah 31, Mashrafe 9*; Malinga 2/38, Kulasekara 0/44, Sanjaya 1/24, Gunaratne 1/24, Prasanna 1/19)
Sri Lanka: 158/4 in 18.5 overs (Kusal 77, Tharanga 24, Munaweera 8, Gunaratne 17, Prasanna 22*, Thisara 4*; Mahmudullah 0/6, Taskin 1/33, Mashrafe 2/32, Mustafizur 0/24, Shakib 0/29, Saifuddin 0/23, Mosaddek 0/7)
Result: Sri Lanka win by six wickets.
Series: Sri Lanka lead two-match series 1-0
Player of the Match: Kusal Perera
(Courtesy BD News 24)