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Lankan bowlers indicate that after Malinga there is still life

Sri Lanka bowlers have achieved top performance to keep Bangladesh at 238-8 and the batsmen have taken control in 44.4 over the runs to post a seven winner victory at the second ODI played yesterday at R Premadasa Stadium.

The win gave Sri Lanka an unassailable 2-0 lead in the three-match series and ended a 44-month barren run without a home series win – the last one coming in November 2015 against West Indies.

It was also Sri Lanka’s first win in the post-Lasith Malinga era and in the absence of the legendary one-day bowler who retired from ODI cricket at the end of the first match of the current series, it was spinner Akila Dananjaya returning to international cricket since March 2019 with a re-modeled action and fast bowlers Nuwan Pradeep and Isuru Udana who kept Bangladesh down to a chaseable total on a slow pitch.

At one stage Bangladesh who won the toss and batted first were struggling at 117-6 in the 32nd over, but old hand Mushfiqur Rahim played a splendid inning of 98 not out to give his team a fighting chance.

With Mehidy Hasan who scored a tidy 43 off 49 balls, Mushfiqur added 84 valuable runs for the seventh wicket to give the total some respectability.

Mushfiqur deserved century for a quality innings that saw Bangladesh more than double their total from what they were at one time. His 110 balls innings comprised a six and six fours.

The Lankan bowlers adjusted well to the slowness of the pitch to deny Bangladesh of many boundaries. The fielding was sharp and they accounted for two run-outs. The majority of Bangladesh batters got into double figures but did not stay long enough to convert it into a big one with the exception of Mushfiqur. Dananjaya making his return to international cricket struck in his first over getting rid of Mohammad Mithun for 12 having him caught at short midwicket and bowled ten tight overs for 39 runs adding Mahmudullah’s wicket as well.

Udana and Pradeep kept the pressure on the batsmen each ending up with two wickets apiece, but one cannot take away the bowling spells of Dhananjaya de Silva (10 overs for 39 runs) and Lahiru Kumara (10 overs for 42 runs) although they went wicketless.

Sri Lanka’s run chase was spearheaded by Avishka Fernando who hit a sparkling 82 off 75 balls (9 fours, 2 sixes) to lay the platform for his team’s victory. He won the Man of the Match award.

Fernando the ‘find’ of the 2019 World Cup for Sri Lanka once again displayed his wonderful talent stroking the ball to all corners of the field. He figured in an opening stand of 71 with his captain Dimuth Karunaratne (15) and one of 58 with Kusal Perera (30) before being dismissed.

The Lankan run chase was successfully completed by the fourth wicket pair Kusal Mendis and Angelo Mathews who took their side home quite comfortably with an unbroken partnership of 96 in 20 overs. Mathews finished the match off in style hoisting Sabbir Rahman for four over mid-on and with it completing his 39th ODI fifty off 57 balls (7 fours). Mendis who played a secondary role in the partnership was unbeaten on 41 off 74 balls (4 fours).

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