DHAKA: Sabbir Rahman scored a brilliant half-century to set up a 23-run win for Bangladesh over Sri Lanka in the Asia Cup Twenty20 in Dhaka on Sunday.
Sabbir hit 80 off 54 balls as Bangladesh posted a respectable 147-7 and then restricted Sri Lanka to 124-8 for their maiden win over the islanders in the Twenty20 format.
The win, Bangladesh’s second in three matches in the tournament, kept the hosts firmly in the race for a place in the final on March 6. They will face Pakistan in their last league match on March 2.
Al-Amin Hossain claimed 3-34 while Shakib Al Hasan chipped in with 2-21 as Sri Lanka collapsed from 76-1 to lose their last seven wickets for 41 runs.
Dinesh Chandimal was dropped on the second ball of the innings and went on to make a run-a-ball 37, the highest in Sri Lanka’s innings.
Shehan Jayasuriya was the only other notable run getter for Sri Lanka with 26 from 21 balls.
“We have always struggled a bit in Twenty20. This was a good win for us,” said Bangladesh captain Mashrafe Mortaza.
“The wicket was pretty good to bat on. With 147, you can still fight it out. After a couple of catches missed, we stood up and did our best.”
Sri Lanka captain Angelo Mathews rued the loss of wickets.
“We just lost our way, and once we hit that 12-runs-an-over mark, we just kept losing wickets,” said Mathews.
Leading Sri Lanka in absence of the regular captain Lasith Malinga, Mathews opened the bowling and struck Mohammad Mithun plumb in front for a duck in the second ball of the innings.
Mathews then took a catch off Nuwan Kulasekara to remove the other opener Soumya Sarkar, also for a duck, giving Sri Lanka a solid start to the game.
Sabbir launched a counter-attack, hitting Kulasekara for three fours and a six off consecutive balls in the fourth over to seize the momentum back for the hosts.
He continued in the same vein despite the run out of Mushfiqur Rahim for four at the other end and shared 82 runs with Shakib for the fourth wicket stand.
Shakib was happy to play second fiddle as Sabbir flayed Sri Lanka’s bowlers to complete his third Twenty20 international fifty off 38 balls with a six off Shehan Jayasuriya over midwicket.
“It was a good opportunity to come in early. I just rotated the strike and played to my strength,” said man of the match Sabbir.
Medium pacer Dushmantha Chameera ended his onslaught when he deceived the right-hander with a slower delivery to force a catch at midwicket to Jayasuriya.
Chameera took an edge from Shakib, who made 32 off 34 balls, in the next over and added Nurul Hasan to his tally to finish with 3-30.
Pakistan will face the UAE in the next match of the tournament on Monday.