Dubai: The Bangladeshi cricket team produced an all-round performance to wallop Sri Lanka by 137 runs in the opening match of the Asia Cup at the Dubai International Stadium here on Saturday. Winning the toss and electing to bat first on a flat track, Bangladesh suffered an early blow when opener Tamim Iqbal was hit on his wrist by Sri Lankan pacer Suranga Lakmal earlier in the game, effectively ruling out of the tournament. He left the field soon after, and medical scans later showed that he suffered a fracture.
Coupled with this, Liton Das and all-rounder Shakib Al Hasan were sent back to the pavilion without scoring by Sri Lankan pace spearhead Lasith Malinga in the fifth and sixth balls of the first over to leave Bangladesh reeling at 3 for 2. Wicketkeeper Mushfiqur Rahim and Mohammad Mithun joined forces and the duo stabilised Bangladesh’s innings. The two batsmen took advantage of the conditions, playing attacking shots and milking runs to keep the scoreboard ticking.
Sharing a 133-run partnership, Rahim and Mithun steered Bangladesh out of trouble and punished the Sri Lankan bowlers, who erred in their lengths. Malinga finally provided a breakthrough for Sri Lanka and soon after, Bangladesh lost a cluster of wickets in the mid-overs to collapse from a well-set position. However, Rahim stayed put and kept on pushing the scoreboard, as he recorded his sixth ODI century in style, courtesy a boundary from Lakmal.
Pacer Mustafizur Rahman was initially the last man for Bangladesh to be out when he was run-out for 10 runs to leave Rahim stranded at the other hand. However, much to everyone’s surprise, Tamim walked out to the crease with his wrist bandaged and played the role of a non-striker, allowing Rahim to continue his onslaught.
The 31-year-old wicketkeeper was finally dismissed courtesy a remarkable catch by Kusal Mendis to end Bangladesh’s innings at 261 in 49.3 overs. Malinga was the pick of the bowlers for Sri Lanka, scalping 4 for 23, followed by off-spinner Dhananjaya de Silva’s 2 for 38. Other bowlers like Lakmal (1 for 46), Amila Aponso (1 for 55) and Thisara Perera (1 for 51) took a wicket apiece.
Chasing 262, Sri Lanka got off to a flying and promising start when experienced opener Upul Tharanga took on Bangladesh pace spearhead and captain Mashrafe Mortaza, yielding 13 runs in the first over. However, Mustafizur drew first blood for Bangladesh, when he trapped Mendis in front. Soon after, Mortaza came back and sent back Tharanga, who played on. The Bangladeshi bowlers continued to make life worse for Sri Lanka, as the middle and lower-order batsmen failed to make runs, allowing Bangladesh to gain an upper hand in the match.
Even Sri Lankan captain Angelo Mathews played a mediocre inning and struggled to tackle the Bangladeshi bowlers, as his teammates were getting dismissed on the other end. All-rounder Thisara Perera also failed to make any impression with the bat, as he made a painful 44-ball 29, having two sixes to his credit.
In the end, it was a mere formality for the Bangladeshi bowlers as spinning all-rounder Shakib Al-Hasan scalped the last wicket to trigger wild celebrations. Rahim was adjudged Man of the Match for his scintillating innings and this was Bangladesh’s biggest win in the Asia Cup tournament so far.
Mortaza (2 for 25) and Mustafizur (2 for 20) took two wickets each. Spinner Mehidy Hasan also scalped 2 for 21. Shakib (1 for 31), Rubel Hossain (1 for 18) and Mosaddek Hossain (1 for 8) took a wicket apiece. Pakistan will now lock horns with Hong Kong in their Group A fixture at the Dubai International Stadium on Sunday.