Mendis, Perera, Kulasekara help Sri Lanka level series

Excellent fielding and steady bowling helped Sri Lanka beat Bangladesh by 70 runs in the final One-Day International on Saturday (April 1), levelling the three-match series at 1-1.

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Sri Lanka, who needed a win to prevent Bangladesh from recording its first away series win since 2009, was put in to bat at the Sinhalese Sports Club Ground in Colombo in what was the first ODI at the venue in more than six years. It was also the first day-game in Sri Lanka in close to two years. The home team rode on half-centuries from Kusal Mendis (54 off 76 balls) and Thisara Perera (52 off 40 balls) to post 280 for 9. Then, Nuwan Kulasekara returned figures of 4 for 37, and Suranga Lakmal and Seekkuge Prasanna picked up two wickets each to bowl Bangladesh out for 210 in 44.3 overs.

Bangladesh’s chase got off to a poor start as Tamim Iqbal, Sabbir Rahman and Mushfiqur Rahim fell within the first 3.3 overs. The onus was then on Soumya Sarkar and Shakib Al Hasan to steer the innings.

They put on 77 runs before Sarkar fell, beaten by Dilruwan Perera’s drift to be stumped for 38, which included three fours and a six. Prasanna bowled Mosaddek Hossain, but the biggest blow came in the 24th over, bowled by Dilruwan.

Bangladesh tour of Sri Lanka 2017 – 3rd ODI at SSC View Full

Shakib had given himself room off the first ball of the over and struck the ball well only to see Danushka Gunathilaka make a diving stop inside the circle on the offside. Shakib tried to lift the next ball over Gunathilaka, but couldn’t clear the man, with the Sri Lankan pulling off a very good catch to send Shakib back for 54. He was looking in fine nick, having hit seven fours in his 62-ball knock.

After that, Lakmal had Mahmudullah caught behind. Then Mehedi Hasan added 28 runs with Mashrafe Mortaza, who had taken three wickets, and 54 runs with Taskin Ahmed for the eighth and ninth wickets respectively, but that only delayed the inevitable.

Mehedi showed good composure and scored most of his runs with orthodox shots, but was not hesitant to innovate when the opportunity presented. He became the third Bangladesh batsman to score a half-century in his first ODI innings before falling for 51 when he tried to loft a slower full toss from Kulasekara over cover in the 45th over.

Kulasekara then had Taskin caught in the outfield a ball later to break Sri Lanka’s streak of six consecutive losses in completed ODIs since the tour of South Africa earlier this year.

The game started with Gunathilaka and Upul Tharanga, the captain, putting on an opening stand of 76 runs. Mehedi provided the breakthrough in the 11th over when he had Gunathilaka caught for 34. Taskin bowled Tharanga for a run-a-ball 35 as Sri Lanka became 87 for 2.

Mendis, who scored a century in the abandoned second ODI, tried to rebuild the innings with Dinesh Chandimal, but two successive run outs hurt Sri Lanka.

Chandimal fell for 21, with television replays showing he had both feet and his bat in the air when Rahim collected a Taskin throw from deep point to break the stumps. Rahim did a smart job in running Milinda Siriwardana out for 12 before he took a catch off Mustafizur Rahman to end Mendis’s defiant innings.

With Bangladesh making regular breakthroughs, Thisara launched a counter-attack with four boundaries and a six to take Sri Lanka to what proved to be a match-winning total.

With both the Test and ODI series drawn, the focus now shifts to the two Twenty20 Internationals, both of which will be played at the R Premadasa Stadium on April 4 and 6.

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