At the end of the day, after 39.2 overs of play, Bangladesh bowling cracked under as tournament hosts Sri Lanka chased down a daunting 184-run target with two wickets in hand to make it to the Super 4s.
It was a battle of egos for both team. Both teams turned out to throw punches at each other on the field. Sri Lanka captain Dasun Shanaka had a lot riding on him the moment he had announced Bangladesh ‘a far easier opponent’ than Afghanistan. Shanaka anchored the chase with a 33-ball 45 as Kusal Mendis‘s 37-ball 60 put enormous pressure on Bangladesh bowlers who faltered for the second consecutive time in the last three overs, failing to defend 35.
Sri Lanka are through to the Super Four phase of #AsiaCup2022 after winning a nail-biter 👏#SLvBAN | #AsiaCup2022… https://t.co/TRTs9ip9r4
— ICC (@ICC) 1662055016000
It was Bangladesh, accused of being a timid T20 team, who went relentlessly hard after Sri Lanka captain Dasun Shanaka put them in to bat. The moment Mehidy Hasan Miraz was sent out to open the batting with Sabbir Rahman, it was clear Bangladesh were not going to die wondering. Miraz’s cameo of 38 off 26 balls set the template for the entire innings.
These are two teams from countries with great passion for cricket. They have grown to be the superpowers in South-East Asia. That their cricket has been unravelling really fast while Afghanistan have looked to pull ahead of them rather seamlessly in this tournament. In essence, these two teams were fighting for their cricketing identity. The Sri Lankan took a lap of honour in front of the Sri Lankan supporters who were clearly outnumbered by the vociferous Bangladeshi fans in the stadium.
Bangladesh team director Khaled Mahmud had laid down the gauntlet on the eve of the match as he claimed: “We at least have two world class bowlers in our team in Shakib Al Hasan and Mustafizur Rahman. Looking at the Sri Lankan team, I don’t see even one.”
Bangladesh were not going to hold back. Led by Miraz, every batter who came in looked to throw their bats from the word go. There couldn’t have been a step back after Khaled’s statement. They nullified Sri Lanka’s trump card leg-spinner Wanindu Hasaranga even after Miraz fell to him in his first over. Sri Lanka pacers looked to hit the pitch hard but Afif Hossain (39 off 22), Mahmudullah (27 off 22) and Mosaddek Hossain (24* off 9) used the extra pace and finished the innings on a strong note.