Sri Lanka register first home series win in 44 months

Sri Lanka made easy work of a 239-run chase in the second One-Day International to register their first series win at home after three years and eight months. Backing up a strong performance from the first one-dayer, where they beat Bangladesh by 91 runs, they picked up a seven-wicket win in the second to take an unassailable 2-0 lead in the three-match series with an all-round performance on Sunday (July 28).

Avishka Fernando looked set for a big one from the get-go, going after Bangladesh’s bowlers, while skipper Dimuth Karunaratne played the perfect accomplice. Mehidy Hasan had bowled his first spell of three overs, conceding just 13 runs, but was taken out of the attack, much to everyone’s surprise with Taijul Islam replacing him. The move backfired as Sri Lanka scored as many as 69 runs in the first powerplay, with Mustafizur Rahman conceding 23 runs in two overs.

Bangladesh’s inability to take the half-chances and lapses in the field didn’t help their cause. Mehidy was brought back and struck immediately to remove Karunratne. But Fernando was in no mood to relent. He raced away to a fifty off 43 balls keeping his side ahead in the game. The pitch was assisting turn, but Bangladesh’s spinners didn’t hit the right lengths consistently, much unlike Sri Lanka’s spinners in the first innings.

Luck favoured the brave too as the ball off the Sri Lankan batsmen’s bats bisected fielders, as did dropped chances from Bangladesh. Fernando was offered a chance when on 77 after Mosaddek in the deep fluffed a straightforward opportunity after making a lot of ground.

However, it didn’t end up causing too much damage with a slower delivery doing the trick for Mustafizur to get the danger man. He fell for a brilliant 75-ball 82 with Bangladesh pulling things back for a brief bit thereafter. It was a tad too late though, with 89 required off 126 balls. Kusal Perera, the centurion from the previous ODI fell for 34, while Kusal Mendis struggled in the middle to get going with just nine runs in 29 balls.

Angelo Mathews and Mendis thereafter added a half-century stand to take Sri Lanka past the 200-run mark. Formalities were completed in the 45th over with Mathews unbeaten on 52, while Mendis finished on 41.

Earlier, Bangladesh didn’t get enough runs on the board after opting to bat with Sri Lanka in control of their innings for the majority of the time. It was Mushfiqur Rahim and Mehidy Hasan who revived a lost cause in that other bit. The pair, for the seventh wicket, added 84 runs to give their bowlers a chance on a slowish track in Colombo. Bangladesh were in doubt of even reaching 200 at one point, reeling at 117 for 6, but post the stand, 240 was suddenly on the cards.

Mehidy, the aggressor, fell for a 49-ball 43 to a slower ball off Pradeep ending the record stand that was Bangladesh’s highest for the seventh wicket against Sri Lanka. It also put an end to Bangladesh’s hopes of getting to what seemed plausible at one point. Mushfiqur turned all that around in the matter of an over. 16 runs in the penultimate over took Bangladesh over 230 and Mushfiqur into the 90s. He, however, couldn’t reach a well-deserved hundred, unbeaten on 98 off 110 balls, finishing with 238 on the board.

It was a track that was to assist spin and both teams read that early, bringing in an extra spinner. Sri Lanka started the innings with spin too, but it was Nuwan Pradeep from the other end who gave them the early breakthrough sending back Soumya Sarkar after a solid start from Bangladesh’s openers. Tamim used his feet against the spinners. His boundaries exuded confidence and authority; he showed intent in a bid to turn around his slump in form. He seemed on course too, until he blew another start going after a wide delivery from Isuru Udana, getting an inside edge to chop on for 19.

Sri Lanka’s bowlers used the slower balls effectively with the batsmen unable to put them away, as was the case throughout the innings, until a counterattack ensued towards the end.

Akila Dananjaya, who was playing his first international since March 2019, struck in his first over. Mithun dragged one outside off to short-midwicket where Kusal Mendis picked out a simple catch as Bangladesh found themselves in a familiar situation where the onus was now on the middle order, and particularly, Mushfiqur to deliver if they had to put on a sizeable total.

Dananjaya showcased just why he is such an asset to the Sri Lankan attack with his variations on display with the leg-breaks, wrong ‘uns, and his offbreaks, finishing as the pick of the bowlers too with 2-39.

After having attempted the googlies consistently, it was his stock ball that did the trick for his 50th ODI wicket, as Mahmudullah departed just as a partnership between him and Mushfiqur was building.

Sri Lanka were on top of Bangladesh, with the run-rate just over 3. Mushfiqur, however, carried on unperturbed as the pair that shared a century stand in the previous ODI came together. While the spinners tied the batsmen down, it frustrated Sabbir Rahman. Dananjaya had put down a tough follow through chance from Mushfiqur, but an edgy Sabbir ran himself out the next ball, setting off for a single that wasn’t there, as Sri Lanka chipped in with regular wickets.

In hindsight, it worked out well for Bangladesh with Mehidy Hasan joining hands with Mushfiqur to up the run-rate in a stand that saw a lot of hustle-bustle. The pair picked up the quick singles, found the boundary often, and raised a half-century stand at a run a ball at a crucial time when the visitors were under the pump with the pitch slowing down. In the end, they finished with something for their bowlers to contest with, but it wasn’t enough.

Brief Scores: Bangladesh 238/8 in 50 overs (Mushfiqur Rahim 98*, Mehidy Hasan 43; Akila Dananjaya 2-39) lost to Sri Lanka 242/3 in 44.4 overs (Avishka Fernando 82, Angelo Mathews 52*, Kusal Mendis 41*) by seven wickets.



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