PALLEKELE, Sri Lanka (AP) — Young fast bowler Matheesha Pathirana grabbed a career-best 4-32 and led injury-hit Sri Lanka to a comfortable five-wicket win over Bangladesh in the Asia Cup on Thursday.
Pathirana consistently challenged the batters with his deceptive pace while spinners Dhananjaya de Silva and Dunith Wellalage dried up runs in the middle overs as Bangladesh was bowled out for 164 in 42.4 overs.
Charith Asalanka (62 not out) and Sadeera Samarawickrama (54) then hit half centuries and carried Sri Lanka to 168-5 with 11 to overs spare despite the top order hobbling against Bangladesh’s pace and the leftarm spin of captain Shakib Al Hasan, who took 2-29.
Sri Lanka stuttered at 3-43 within the first 10 overs when fast bowler Taskin Ahmed had Dimuth Karunaratne clean bowled cheaply and Al Hasan knocked back the stumps of Kusal Mendis with a straight delivery.
But Asalanka and Samarawickrama rebuilt the chase with a 78-run stand before Mahedi Hasan had the latter stumped off a delivery that spun away from the righthander. Al Hasan then had Dhananjaya de Silva’s stumps rattled with a full pitched delivery before Asalanka ensured Sri Lanka got home with plenty of overs to spare.
It was a remarkable show by Sri Lanka’s second string bowlers after injuries to multiple frontline bowlers ahead of the tournament, including ace legspinner Wanindu Hasaranga.
Al Hasan’s decision to bat first under overcast conditions didn’t go well. Offspinner Maheesh Theekshana struck off his second ball when he had Tanzid Hasan leg before wicket without scoring that encouraged Sri Lanka skipper Dasun Shanaka to deploy spinners inside the first 10 overs despite overcast conditions.
De Silva had Mohammad Naim (16) caught at point off a leading edge and Pathirana’s pace outdone Al Hasan (5) who gloved a low catch to wicketkeeper Pathum Nissanka as Bangladesh slipped to 3-36 in the 11th over.
Najmul Hossain Shanto top-scored with 89 off 122 balls but never looked to threaten the pace and spin on a tricky wicket. Shanto shared a 59-run fourth-wicket partnership with Towhid Hridoy, who made 20 before Shanaka went for a successful television referral of lbw against Hridoy and broke the stand in the 24th over.
Bangladesh’s most experienced player Mushfiqur Rahim (13) was one of the four batters to reach double-figures before he fell in Pathirana’s return spell as he failed to clear the third man fielder with his uppercut. Pathirana made short work of the tailenders by claiming two more quick wickets as Bangladesh folded for a well below-par total.
Afghanistan is the other team in Group B, with the top two advancing to the Super 4. Pakistan inflicted a crushing 238-run defeat on newcomer Nepal in the opening Group A game on Wednesday and will take on archrival India in its next group game on Saturday.
The Asia Cup is being hosted in Pakistan and Sri Lanka after India refused to travel to Pakistan because of political tensions between the two countries. Pakistan will host four games while Sri Lanka will host nine, including the final on Sept. 17.
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