Sri Lanka defeated Bangladesh by five wickets in a feisty T20 World Cup clash on Sunday, hammering home their status as surprise title contenders.
Chasing an imposing target of 172, the 2014 champions saw Charith Asalanka (80 not out) and Bhanuka Rajapaksa (53) lead them to victory for a fourth successive win after three triumphs in the qualifying round.
Earlier, Mushfiqur Rahim, with an undefeated 57 and opener Mohammad Naim, who hit 62, starred for Bangladesh in the Super 12 game after being put into bat.
England, Australia, South Africa and West Indies are the other teams in the group from where the top two will make the semi-finals.
“I am happy to hit a winning knock for my country,” said Asalanka who got the winning runs off a boundary with seven balls to spare.
“When I faced the first ball, it looked like a good pitch and I backed myself to play my natural game. Rajapaksa played a brilliant knock and he changed the momentum.”
Asalanka made his runs from 49 balls, hitting five boundaries and five sixes as he and Rajapaksa put on 86 for the fourth wicket.
Both men were dropped by Liton Das with Rajapaksa reprieved after he had made only 14.
The lone bright spot for Bangladesh in the field was the two wickets in four balls by Shakib Al Hasan to dismiss Pathum Nissanka and Aviskha Fernando.
That allowed the veteran all-rounder go to 41 wickets, surpassing Pakistan’s Shahid Afridi for most victims in T20 World Cups.
“I thought 171 could be defended. Liton and Naim gave us a very good start. Mushfiq played a brilliant innings,” said Bangladesh skipper Mahmudullah Riyad.
“We were in the game till the tenth over. But things went wrong for us after tha