His 107-run stand with Mahmudullah helps Bangladesh recover after Dhananjaya’s strikes
Bangladesh 257 for 6 (Mushfiqur 84, Mahmudullah 54, Tamim 52, Dhananjaya 3-45) Sri Lanka
Mushfiqur Rahim and Mahmudullah put on a 107-run fifth-wicket partnership to help raise Bangladesh to 257 for 6, on a sluggish Mirpur surface. The pair only hit six fours and two sixes between them, preferring to accumulate safely against the spinners through the middle overs, after having come together with the team in mild trouble. Rahim put together the more impressive individual innings of the two, hitting 84 off 87, while Mahmudullah made 54 off 76.
But this partnership, in addition to a half-century at the top of the order from Tamim Iqbal, and some finishing blows from Afif Hossain and Mohammad Saifuddin, saw Bangladesh put up a competitive – if not quite commanding – total. Over the last five years, Bangladesh’s average total batting first at this venue was 235.
Unsurprisingly, it is the spinners who prospered most for Sri Lanka, with Dhananjaya de Silva picking up 3 for 45 from his 10 overs, while Lakshan Sandakan took the wicket of Mushfiqur, and the part-time offspin of Danushka Gunathilaka removed Shakib Al Hasan. De Silva was not just penetrative through the middle overs, he was even effective towards the death, bowling two of the last five overs, conceding only eight in them, and bowling Mahmudullah through the gate besides. Sri Lanka’s seamers weren’t quite so good in the last five – Isuru Udana went for 14 and 10 in his last two overs, and Chameera gave away 10 runs off the 50th.
Chameera had taken the first wicket of the day, however, having Liton Das caught at second slip, with his third ball. From among Sri Lanka’s bowlers, only Udana went at more than a run-a-ball.
It was just when de Silva was imposing himself on the game that Rahim and Mahmudullah came together. The bowler had trapped Tamim and Mohammad Mithun in front of the stumps off consecutive deliveries, to leave Bangladesh stuttering at 99 for 4 after 23 overs. But together, the new pair set about bedding in against the spinners, cautiously at first, venturing only the occasional boundary. The run rate had fallen to 4.13 by the end of the 30th over, but eventually they would pick up the pace – Rahim crashing Wanindu Hasaranga for four through deep midwicket, before hitting de Silva aerially over cover to complete his half century, off 52 balls.
Although the Mirpur track was slow, there was no drastic turn, and both batters soon appeared extremely comfortable against Sri Lanka’s spinners, frequently slinking around the field to manoeuvre the ball into gaps square of the wicket. By the end of the 42nd over, their recovery was complete, at at 199 for 4, Bangladesh were poised for late fireworks.
But neither Mushfiqur or Mahmudullah ended up providing much in the way of acceleration. Mushfiqur reverse-swept Sandakan into hands of short third man at the start of the 44th over. Mahmudullah completed his fifty, but was bowled trying to slog de Silva across the line at the start of the 48th. Hossain and Saifuddin struck late boundaries against the seamers, however, to ensure that Bangladesh capitalised on the platform Tamim, Rahim and Mahmudullah had provided.
Andrew Fidel Fernando is ESPNcricinfo’s Sri Lanka correspondent. @afidelf