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CHARITH ASALANKA hit an unbeaten 80 to steer Sri Lanka to a five-wicket win over Bangladesh in their opening T20 World Cup Super 12 match in Sharjah.
Mushfiqur Rahim’s unbeaten 57 enabled Bangladesh, put in to bat after Sri Lanka won the toss, to post 171 for four in the group one encounter, with opener Mohammad Naim contributing 62.
But Asalanka, who hit five sixes and five fours off 49 balls, steered the Sri Lankans to victory with seven balls to spare, ably assisted by Bhanuka Rajapaksa, who hit 53 off 31 deliveries.
Sri Lanka’s run chase was aided by two dropped catches by Bangladesh opener Liton Das, who crucially spilled chances offered by Rajapaksa and Asalanka.
Sri Lanka’s reply got off to a bad start when Kusal Perera misjudged an attempted sweep off the fourth ball of the opening over from Nasum Ahmed and was bowled for one.
Asalanka joined Pathum Nissanka and the new batter hit two sixes off Nasum in the third over.
Shakib al-Hasan struck twice for Bangladesh in the ninth over. Nissanka was bowled for 24 attempting a sweep and Avishka Fernando misjudged a well-flighted delivery to follow suit for a duck reducing Sri Lanka to 71 for three.
Wanindu Hasaranga perished in the next over, holing out to Naim off Mohammad Saifuddin for six. Sri Lanka were 79 for four with Asalanka joined by Rajapaksa and the pair seized the initiative putting on 86 for the fifth wicket.
Bangladesh should have had a fifth wicket in the 13th over when Rajapaksa skied his attempted pull off Afif Hossain but Das spilled a catch near the ropes. Das dropped a second a catch in the 15th over, this time as Asalanka miscued.
Rajapaksa hoisted the first two balls of the 16th over from Saifuddin for six and the third delivery for four to switch the momentum towards Sri Lanka.
Rajapaksa was bowled by Nasum off the second ball of the 19th over but Asalanka saw Sri Lanka comfortably home to victory.
Afghanistan meet Scotland in today’s fixture in Sharjah.
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