Kusal Perera 77 Aces Sri Lanka Chase

Kusal Perera made a roaring return to Sri Lankan colours, cracking 77 off 53 balls to lead the hosts on a successful hunt of Bangladesh's 155 for 6. That Sri Lanka had so few to chase was partly the work of Sri Lanka's bowlers, who made breakthroughs whenever a partnership threatened, though they were helped to that end by off-colour Bangladesh batting.

Mashrafe Mortaza, who as it turned out, was playing his penultimate game in the format, was by a distance the visitors' best bowler. He claimed 2 for 32 from his four overs, and only one other bowler - Taskin Ahmed - mustered a breakthrough. Sri Lanka sauntered to the target with seven balls and six wickets to spare.

This match was Kusal's first international since his unseemly Test outing in Port Elizabeth, for which he was dropped from the Test XI, then subsequently axed from the limited-overs squads altogether. Having returned to national reckoning via good innings for Sri Lanka A, Kusal outlined his value to Sri Lanka in an innings that showcased a little batting nous as well as characteristic brutality. The bludgeoned drives and whipped pick-up shots over midwicket did eventually come, but not before he had laid low for the first four overs; and the big shots were, in any case, well devised as well as nicely executed. Instead of trying to clear fielders as Kusal often does, he strove to hit even his most ambitious shots into gaps.

Having made only 5 off his first eight balls, Kusal smoked four fours and a six off his next seven, to help move Sri Lanka to 57 for none at the end of the Powerplay. Upul Tharanga, who had given the innings its initial impetus, departed in the seventh over, but Kusal stayed long enough to almost see the chase through. He reached his fifty off 31 balls, and when he fell in the penultimate over, Sri Lanka needed only nine runs, which they would proceed to gather over the next four balls. Seekkuge Prasanna was not out with 22 off 12 at the close.

Though their bowlers responded poorly to Kusal's shellacking, Bangladesh may reflect that it was with the bat that they made the more substantial mistakes. They had flown to 57 for 1 after five overs, for example, but then Sabbir Rahman ran a poor line to get himself run out, and Soumya Sarkar holed out in the same Vikum Sanjaya over. Suddenly, at 57 for 3, all that momentum they had developed was surrendered.

Mushfiqur Rahim and Shakib Al Hasan fell playing expansive shots to slow bowlers, who should, in fact, have been less effective on this track, which retained a little grass and had been rolled until hard. Mosaddek Hossain and Mahmudullah put on 57 off 42 together to lift their side from 82 for 5, but could not quite crack enough runs through the back-end of the innings to lift Bangladesh to a winning score.

Lasith Malinga was especially good through this period, giving away seven and eight in his last two overs, in which he took the wicket of Mahmudullah with a searing yorker, having also done the same to Tamim Iqbal with the second ball of the match.

Rain before play had delayed the start by 45 minutes, but no overs were lost. (ESPN)

© 2017 Asian Mirror (pvt) Ltd