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Asalanka, Rajapaksa heroics powers Sri Lanka to win

Asalanka, Rajapaksa heroics powers Sri Lanka to win
October 24, 2021 --- Web Desk

SHARJA (92 News) – Sri Lanka opened their Super 12 account with a brilliant win over Bangladesh, producing their highest successful run chase at a T20 World Cup to get two points on the board.

Sri Lanka’s batters step up

Sri Lanka qualified for the Super 12s largely thanks to the brilliance of their well-balanced bowling attack. And that combination of high pace and mystery spin will worry every opponent in Group 1.

But on this occasion, it wasn’t the bowlers who made the difference for Sri Lanka. Bangladesh made the attack toil a little, with Mushfiqur Rahm and Mohammad Naim’s half-centuries helping build a competitive tall of 171/4.

But Sri Lanka’s new number three Charith Asalanka stepped up with a fluid knock of 80* off 49 balls to steer his nation to victory and their highest successful run chase in a T20 World Cup.

Credit too to the big-hitting birthday boy Bhanuka Rajapaksa, who powered 53 off 31 just when the required rate looked in danger of getting out of control.

On the day he turned 30, Rajapaksa showed glimpses of the talent that earned him international recognition, banging three maximums in his quickfire half-century.

Semi-final chance

Tempers were stretched to breaking point and there were plenty of nerves in the field in Sharjah, and for good reason. This first game of both teams’ Super 12 campaigns could prove pivotal to the outcome of Group 1.

The six teams in the group appear relatively evenly matched, with West Indies looking vulnerable through their warm-up games and the opening fixture against England, and Australia and South Africa showing enough weaknesses to suggest both Sri Lanka and Bangladesh had legitimate hope of reaching the semi-finals.

But getting off to a winning start in the Super 12 stage always going to be crucial, and the stunning partnership between Asalanka and Rajapakse to get Sri Lanka over the line has given them a real chance to get into that final four next month.

Fielding woes undo Bangladesh

Despite defeat, Bangladesh put in a very decent showing with bat and ball, with big names Mushifqur Rahm and Shakib Al Hasan delivering excellent individual performances.

But the Tigers will look back at this game with regret over their quality, or lack of it, in the field.

Sri Lanka were in a spot of bother when they lost three for eight in the middle of the innings, and that flurry of wickets could have turned into a winning spell for Bangladesh if they’d backed it up in the field.

But two drops in the deep from Liton Das handed lifelines to Charith Asalanka and Bhanuka Rajapaksa, and the pair made Das and Bangladesh pay.