Sri Lanka edge Bangladesh to script winning start to Asia Cup defence

KANDY - Matheesha Pathirana’s four-fer pow­ered Sri Lanka to bundle out Bangla­desh for a meagre 164 despite a valiant 89-run knock by Najmul Hossain Shan­to in the second match of the ongoing Asia Cup 2023. 

Opting to bat first, Bangladesh’s bat­ting unit failed to put on a decent total on the board despite Shanto’s gutsy half-century. The visitors got off to a dismal start to their innings as they lost three wickets inside 11 overs with just 36 runs on the board as Mohammad Naim (16), Tanzid Hassan (0) and skipper Shakib Al Hasan (5) perished cheaply. 

Following the slump, Shanto was joined by Towhid Hridoy at the crease and the pair anchored the proceedings with a cautious 59-run partnership for the fourth wicket. The duo of Shanto and Hridoy appeared to have settled down before Sri Lankan captain Dasun Shana­ka drew a much-needed breakthrough for his side in the 24th over when he trapped Hridoy lbw on 20. 

Shanto was then involved in another crucial partnership for Bangladesh in their Asia Cup 2023 campaign opener when he put together a 32-run stand with experienced Mushfiqur Rahim. The duo, however, failed to stretch their stand as Rahim fell victim to Pathirana in the 33rd over and could score a cautious 13 off 22 deliveries. 

Following Rahim’s dismissal, Shanto began to lose partners at the other end at an alarming rate before he too, fi­nally headed back to the pavilion after MaheeshTheekshana castled him in the 42nd over. He waged a lone battle for Bangladesh in their first match of the ongoing Asia Cup 2023 with a 122-ball 89 which featured seven boundaries. 

Besides him, only Naim, Hridoy and Rahim managed to make it to the double figures. Matheesha Pathirana led the bowling attack for Sri Lanka with 4/32 in seven overs, followed by Theekshana taking two wickets while Dhananjaya de Silva, DunithWellalage and Shanaka made one scalp each. 

During the post-match discussion, Matheesha Pathirana, who was recog­nized as the player of the match, ex­pressed, “I’m truly delighted to secure my inaugural Player of the Match award while representing my nation. The sig­nificance of slower deliveries cannot be understated; that’s precisely how I man­aged to claim wickets during the crucial phase towards the end of the game. The transition from T20s to the fifty-over format has rendered this skill exception­ally valuable. I take pride in the distinc­tiveness of my bowling style, which adds an element of unpredictability.”

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