Allrounder Shakib Al Hasan and seamer Mustafizur Rahman propelled Bangladesh to a series-levelling 45-run win in the last Twenty20 against Sri Lanka to make sure Mashrafe Bin Mortaza steps down from the format in style.
Shakib smashed a decisive 38 to capitalise on a strong base and helped Bangladesh post a competitive 176 for 9 despite a hat-trick from Lasith Malinga at the R Premadasa Stadium in Colombo on Thursday evening.
The allrounder dealt early blows to the Lankan top order, returning 3-24 while young Mustafizur took 4-21 with deft bowling to bundle Sri Lanka out for 131 with two overs to spare.
It meant the series ended 1-1, much like both the Test and ODI series.
Shakib, who opened the bowling for Bangladesh, went through the gates of Kusal Perera (4) with his second ball before taking out Dilshan Munaweera (4) in his next over to give his team the perfect start to their defence.
Early wickets piled the pressure on the hosts but the batsmen looked to break free with the fielding restrictions still in place.
Upul Tharanga, in at three, looked in good touch as he smashed three boundaries off the spinners. He survived when Mashrafe dropped a straightforward chance at the edge of the circle.
Mahmudullah then fired in a quicker delivery, surprising the skipper who skied it to perish for 23 as the islanders slipped to 40 for 3 with Mashrafe yet to use his ace, Mustafizur.
The talismanic pacer deepened Sri Lanka’s woes by picking up the wickets of Asela Gunaratne and Milinda Siriwardana for golden ducks with his first two balls. Sri Lanka then tottered on 40 for 5 with four balls to spare in the powerplay.
Chamara Kapugedera and Thisara Perera led the recovery. They batted with maturity under pressure, showing resilience and milking the boundaries whenever possible.
Kapugedera, in particular, displayed fine technique as the pair added 58 runs for the sixth wicket to revive Sri Lanka hopes. The duo looked in control but Shakib came to Bangladesh’s rescue.
The star allrounder bowled one flat as Thisara (27) went for a heave, missed and was stumped. Sri Lanka lost their sixth wicket before they could reach 100.
Bangladesh were brilliant on the field. The ball rarely got past them, especially around the edge of the boundary, keeping the batsmen on their toes.
Thisara’s fall meant Sri Lanka lost the fluid understanding between their batsmen and Kapugedera struggled to keep up the pace with the asking rate which had climbed to more than 12 by then.
Mashrafe, who did not have a good game, made a mess of a run-out opportunity of Kapugedera but made amends by shattering the stumps of Seekkuge Prasanna (11) to grab his only wicket of the game.
It was Mustafizur who saw Kapugedara off after the batsman reached his 50 off 31 balls and essentially ended the chase.
Earlier, Sri Lanka’s spearhead Malinga produced a dazzling hat-trick to restrict Bangladesh to a competitive 176 for 9 after the tourists looked good for a more imposing total.
A superb fightback from the bowlers in latter part of the innings saw Bangladesh manage 52 in the last 6.5 overs at the expense of seven wickets, which included Malinga’s hat-trick in his last over.
Imrul Kayes and Soumya Sarkar were off to a rollicking start after Bangladesh elected to bat first. They paired in a record Bangladesh opening stand of 71.
Both the openers punished the Sri Lankan bowlers for straying too far outside offstump at the outset. They blasted 18 in the fourth over off Vikum Sanjaya, which included two sixes, before Munaweera was put away for 14 in the next.
Tharanga kept switching his bowlers at each end. Even Malinga was on the receiving end, conceding 12 in the sixth over as Bangladesh raced away to 68 at the end of the powerplay. (Courtesy BD News 24)