Bangladesh pulled off a memorable record chase to stun Sri Lanka by five wickets in the Nidahas Twenty20 Tri-Series on Saturday, ending their recent run of reverses against the islanders owing to Mushfiqur Rahim’s belligerent 35-ball 72.
Chasing a mammoth 215 in the stipulated 20 overs, Bangladesh crossed the line in 19.4 overs for the loss of five wickets. This was the fourth highest run chase in T20 Internationals and Bangladesh’s best.
Blazing half-centuries by Kusal Mendis and Kusal Perera had powered Sri Lanka to a formidable 214 for six after Bangladesh opted to bowl.
When his time to bat came, Mushfiqur slammed four sixes and five boundaries during a smashing knock.
Needing nine off the last over, Mushfiqur slashed Thisara Perera for a boundary to inch closer to victory. Before that, the experienced wicketkeeper hit a six after 19 were required in the last two overs.
If the Lankans were off to a flyer, Bangladesh’ start was blistering as they raced to 74 in just six under overs, before Liton Das’ whirlwind 19-ball 43-run knock came to an end.
The Tigers continued to roar as Tamim Iqbal (47) and Soumya Sarkar (24) kept up with the required run rate to reach 100 in the 10th over. However, having blazed away to 47 off 29 balls with the help of six boundaries and a six, Tamim offered a return catch to Thisara Perera in the over they got to the three-figure mark. That was Thisara’s 50th wicket in T20 Internationals.
Liton Das had smashed five sixes and two fours.
The experienced Mushfiqur Rahim and skipper Mahmudullah then joined hands in the middle.
Mushfiqur seemed determined to take his side as close to the target as possible, hitting Shanaka for a six and four off successive balls in the 12th over.
They needed 112 at the back 10 at little over 12 runs an over.
After a six in the 17th over, Mushfiqur started the next over with four to put pressure on Sri Lanka and he sustained it till the end to see Bangladesh home.
Earlier, Mendis (57) and Perera (74) toyed with the Bangladesh attack with a flurry of boundaries and sixes, to the delight of the home crowd at the Premadasa Stadium.
Invited to bat after a drizzle delayed the toss by 15 minutes, Sri lanka were off to a flying start with Mendis putting on 56 runs for the opening wicket with Danushka Gunathilaka (26).
Bangladesh pacers were guilty of bowling short and the Lankans took full advantage of that, pummelling them for 70 runs in the six mandatory powerplay overs.
That the visitors persisted with bowling short despite getting smacked, too helped Sri Lanka’s cause.
Mendis hit 57 off 30 balls with the help of five sixes and two fours, Perera found the fence eight times and cleared it twice in his 48-ball knock.
That set the tone for a big total and even though Mustafizur Rahman cleaned up Gunathilaka, the hosts were sitting pretty at the halfway stage at 98 for one.
There was a lull though, from seventh to ninth over, as the hosts managed just 16 runs in 18 balls.
The well-settled Mendis hoiked Nazmul Islam over square leg for a six to break the shackles.
It was then the turn of the other Kusal - Perera - as he smashed Mehidy Hasan for a six and four, helping Sri Lanka race to 111 for one at the end of 11th over.
Continuing his stellar run at the top, Mendis meanwhile welcomed Mustafizur with a six and brought up his fifty in just 26 balls, his third half-century in four innings.
Bangladesh had a breakthrough but not before Mendis sent a Mahmudullah delivery soaring over deep mid-wicket for another maximum.
Dasun Shanaka and Dinesh Chandimal fell cheaply but Upul Tharanga helped Sri Lanka score 17 runs in the 17th over with the help of two boundaries and a six. Tharanga was unbeaten on a breezy 32 off 15 balls.
Meanwhile, Perera continued his onslaught on the Bangladesh bowlers, and was mostly dealing in boundaries. He got out while going for one too many, getting stumped off Mustafizur.
Mustafizur Rahman (3/48) and Mahmudullah (2/15) were the most successful bowlers for Bangladesh.