Sri Lanka 257 for 9 (Samarawickrama 93, Kusal 50, Mahmud 3-57) beat Bangladesh 236 (Hridoy 82, Shanaka 3-28, Pathirana 3-58) by 21 runs
While Samarawickrama’s innings will rightly collect all the plaudits, this was just as much a win propped up by Sri Lanka’s ever more impressive bowling unit. By now, their injury travails are well documented; but with each passing game, there seems to be someone that steps up to take up the mantle.
This, though, was a game that could not have been won if not for Samarawickrama. It was that quintessential knock where one batter simply seemed to be playing on a different surface altogether than his team-mates. It was an innings of precision and purpose; but Samarawickrama has toiled in the domestic circuit for several years to earn his chance, and after this outing, his place in the ODI side should be all but locked in.
Having come into bat in the 24th over, Samarawickrama played the game state to perfection, knocking the ball around initially while dealing almost exclusively in singles. In fact, up until the 40th over, he had just two fours to his name. By the time he was dismissed off the final ball of the innings, that number reached eight, alongside two sixes to go with it. In the process, Sri Lanka racked up 81 runs in the final ten overs in what would turn out to be a match-winning total of 257.
Not that it was obvious to anyone at the halfway mark – except Samarawickrama. After his innings, he proclaimed that it was an above-par score, the confidence in his tone suggesting an unwavering trust in his own appraisal of the surface, which in itself adds more merit to his knock.
Prior to Samarawickrama’s intervention, this was a game that had threatened to go the way so many other Sri Lanka batting performances had – with a fizzle at the death. A 34-run opening stand followed by a 74-run partnership between Kusal Mendis and Pathum Nissanka had laid a solid enough platform by taking Sri Lanka to 103 for 1 by the end of the 22nd over.
But between overs 22 and 40, Sri Lanka scored just 74 runs, as wickets fell at regular intervals. While Kusal got a second successive fifty, he again failed to convert it into a big score, with his fifty-to-hundred ratio reading 23:2.