Samarawickrama 93 takes Sri Lanka to 257/9 against Bangladesh

Taskin Ahmed’s first over in Bangladesh’s second Super Fours game against Sri Lanka gave an indication how the day would go for their bowlers. There was swing in the air, movement off the seam, a streaky boundary and a confident shot for four. That remained the story for Sri Lanka throughout their innings as they finished with 257 for nine after 50 overs. 

Sadeera Samarawickrama hit a masterful 93 off just 72 on a pitch where the others mostly struggled to find their timing. 

There were a lot of lucky runs on a pitch that offered a lot of help to both the seamers and spinners but the visiting fast bowlers yet again showed why they are part of one of the world’s best pace-bowling groups.

Taskin Ahmed nearly got Pathum Nissanka before a great use of the DRS saved him early in the innings. Shoriful Islam took the new ball but Bangladesh captain Shakib Al Hasan replaced him with Hasan Mahmud, keeping in mind Dimuth Karunaratne’s weakness against right-arm pace. 

Karunaratne (18 off 17) struck Hasan for two consecutive boundaries but the latter had the last laugh as he got one to seam away off the pitch and induce the outside edge. 

The new ball bowlers asked questions constantly but without any luck. The ball moved around a lot and beat the edges of the bat of Nissanka and Kusal Mendis. The attacking line and length worked counterproductively, though, for Sri Lanka as they scored at a fair clip in the powerplay (51/1). 

The left-arm spinning duo of Shakib Al Hasan and Nasum Ahmed slowed things down and put pressure on Nissanka and Mendis. Bangladesh gave away just 34 runs between overs 11 and 20 although they didn’t find a breakthrough. 

Nissanka was dropped by Mushfiqur Rahim behind the stumps in the 19th over. His partner Mendis was lucky twice in the 22nd over as Shamim Hossain misjudged a catch at the boundary and a genuine edge raced to the boundary. But Shoriful, impressive in the previous match as well, got the much-needed wicket of Nissanka as he trapped the right-hander leg-before after scoring 40 off 60.

Right after his fifty, Mendis (58 off 79) threw it away by ramping a short ball straight to deep third man. Shoriful nailed a few straight short balls before luring Mendis into going after a wider one. Sri Lanka were in trouble with two new batters in the middle at 117 for three in the 26th over.

Taskin was wicketless in his opening spell despite bowling brilliantly but got his reward in the 32nd over as he got rid of Charith Asanlanka (10 off 23).  Dhananjaya de Silva failed with the bat too but the star for Sri Lanka was Sadeera Samarawickrama. 

A classy right-handed batter, Samarawickrama negotiated the spin trio of Bangladesh with utmost conviction. It looked like he was batting on a different pitch altogether. His game awareness caught the eye of everyone as he took calculative risks and rotated strikes regularly to keep the scoreboard moving. 

He added 60 off 57 with Dasun Shanaka (24 off 32) to take the total above par. 

Hasan Mahmud (3/57) was the most impressive of the bowlers. He was unfortunate at times to be hit for boundaries but kept on hitting the right areas. After getting two batting stalwarts – Karunaratne and de Silva – Hasan castled Shanaka, one of Sri Lanka’s biggest hitters. 

Hasan bowled a magnificent 47th over, giving away four runs and getting rid of Shanaka. Shakib entrusted him with the penultimate over and despite being hit for a six first ball, he finished well and affected a run out with some excellent footwork. 

Taskin got his second wicket by bouncing out Maheesh Theekshana in the final over. The well-set Samarawickrama hit a four and a six then to take Sri Lanka past 250 before getting out last ball.

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