Charith Asalanka starred and Bhanuka Rajapaksa celebrated his birthday with a half-century as Sri Lanka beat Bangladesh by five wickets in the T20 World Cup.

Mohammad Naim (62 off 52 balls) and Mushfiqur Rahim (57 not out from 37) got the Tigers up to 171-4 after they were put in the battle of the qualifiers at Sharjah Cricket Stadium on Sunday.

Sri Lanka were in trouble on 79-4 when Wanindu Hasaranga fell after Shakib Al Hasan (2-17) dismissed Pathum Nissanka and Avishka Fernando in the ninth over.

Asalanka and Rajapaksa came to the rescue with a fifth-wicket stand of 86, setting up a victory in their opening Super 12 game that was sealed with seven balls to spare.

Opener Asalanka returned to form with a brilliant unbeaten 80 from 49 balls, while Rajapaksa benefited from two gifts from Liton Das on his 30th birthday.

The left-hander from Colombo was dropped twice by Das and capitalised on those let-offs by scoring 53 off 31 balls before departing in the penultimate over.

Sri Lanka's highest successful run chase moved them level on points with leaders England and Australia in Group 1, also halting a run of three consecutive T20 defeats against the Tigers.

 

TIgers batsmen Naim and Mushfiqur show their teeth

Naim and Mushfiqur played superbly to get the Tigers up to a good total after they were 56-2 in the eighth over when the dangerous Shakib departed, having been cleaned up by Chamika Karunaratne (1-12) for only 10.

Opener Naim brought up his fourth T20I half-century – and a second of the tournament – off 44 balls, finding the rope six times before he was caught and bowled by Binura Fernando. Mushfiqur struck two sixes in an enterprising, classy knock as he brought out his full repertoire of strokes.

Asalanka steps up, Rajapaksa grateful for Das gifts

Sri Lanka had been going along well on 54-1 at the end of the powerplay, but there was work to do when the Rajapaksa joined Asalanka at the crease.

Das spilled the birthday boy in the deep when he was on 14 and then 23 as Bangladesh felt the heat. Asalanka never looked troubled in his maiden T20I half-century, hitting five sixes and as many fours, with Rajapaksa clearing the rope three times in an impressive run chase.

Scotland are heading to the Super 12 stage of the T20 World Cup after swatting aside Oman to earn a crushing eight-wicket win in their final Group B game.

After limiting Oman to 122 all out, Scotland coasted to victory with three overs to spare. Captain Kyle Coetzer hit three sixes in a 28-ball innings of 41, with Matthew Cross (26no) and Richie Berrington (31no) seeing Scotland home at the Al Amerat Cricket Ground in Oman, denying their hosts a chance to compete at the highest level.

Berrington clubbed Khawar Ali for a pair of sixes in the 14th over to ease Scotland's nerves and take them into three figures, and the same batsman lashed a four and another maximum off consecutive balls from Mohammad Nadeem to seal a resounding success.

Bangladesh earlier also made sure of their place in the Super 12 round as they thrashed Papua New Guinea by 84 runs, making 181-7 before bowling out their opponents for 97.

Mahmudullah made 50 for Bangladesh, while Shakib Al Hasan weighed in with 46 before taking 4-9 with the ball. Papua New Guinea were reduced at one stage to 29-7, making a Bangladesh victory a formality.

Scotland go through as group winners with a 100 per cent record, having beaten Bangladesh earlier in the campaign, and will tackle India, Pakistan, New Zealand, Afghanistan and either Sri Lanka, Ireland or Namibia in Group Two as the elite sides enter the competition. Bangladesh must face Australia, England, South Africa, West Indies and the Group A winners, who are almost certain to be Sri Lanka.

The Super 12 group action gets under way on Saturday as Australia face South Africa in Abu Dhabi.

Bangladesh avoided an early exit after their shock opening-day defeat by Scotland, beating Oman by 26 runs despite a late wobble.

The team ranked sixth in the world were bowled out by Oman for 153 from the final ball of their innings, recording just eight wickets for 52 runs in the last seven overs.

Bangladesh had started well, with Mohammad Naim managing 64 runs from 50 balls and Shakib Al Hasan registering 42 from 29, but the team crumbled after the latter's exit.

Oman were unable to capitalise, however, collapsing late on themselves with five wickets from five overs and ending on 127-9, having been 81-2.

The day's early game saw Scotland survive a scare of their own to earn their second victory of the tournament and move within one win of qualifying for the Super 12s stage.

Scotland beat Papua New Guinea by 17 runs, making 165-9 as Richie Berrington hit a half-century that included three sixes – one being the longest of the tournament at 97metres – as well as six fours.

However, the 14th-ranked side in the world fell apart after he and Callum McLeod exited in the 19th over, seeing three wickets fall from the final three balls.

Papua New Guinea were bowled out for 148 in the last over, though, falling to their second defeat of the competition after losing to Oman in their opening match.

Chris Greaves produced an instrumental performance to help Scotland deal an early dent to Bangladesh's hopes of progressing to the T20 World Cup Super 12 with a shock win.

A Scotland victory appeared extremely unlikely when they were reduced to 53-6 having been put into bat in Muscat.

However, Greaves' 28-ball 45 helped Scotland rebuild their innings, as they reached 140-9, in an innings that saw Shakib Al Hasan become the leading wicket-taker in T20 internationals, with two dismissals taking him to 108.

And Greaves was similarly key with ball in hand, his 2-19 comprising the key wickets of Shakib and Mushfiqur Rahim.

Greaves broke up that duo's 47-run third-wicket partnership by removing Shakib for 20 and then benefited as Mushfiqur misjudged a scoop on 38 and lost his leg stump.

Brad Wheal (3-24) took a starring role from there, dismissing Nural Hasan (2) and Bangladesh captain Mahmudullah (23) in the space of four 19th-over deliveries.

Bangladesh were left needing 24 off the last over and that proved too steep a challenge as Scotland prevailed by six runs.

The day's earlier Group B game saw Oman cruise to a 10-wicket win over Papua New Guinea thanks in part to Jatinder Singh's 73.

Australia's T20I series in Bangladesh ended in a humiliating defeat as the tourists were bowled out for 62 in the final game of the five-match series.

Bangladesh had already clinched a series victory going into the final contest in Dhaka, but rounded things off in style with a 60-run victory. 

The hosts reached 122-8 on a surface that consistently proved challenging to bat on, before Shakib Al Hasan took over with ball in hand.

Shakib took 4-9 from 3.4 overs, while Mohammad Saifuddin claimed 3-12 as Australia were dismissed with just 13.4 overs bowled.

Afterwards, stand-in captain Matthew Wade, who top-scored for Australia with 22, found little reason to be upbeat following the 4-1 series defeat.

"It's hard to say there will be more positives. Certainly a great learning opportunity for our group," Wade said. 

"I've played for a few years now, [these were] certainly the toughest conditions to play T20 cricket in.

"It wasn't our series unfortunately. There's no excuses of not playing enough cricket. We had enough cricket in the West Indies to come and play good cricket, we just didn't."


Shakib stars

Shakib's masterful display with the ball saw 15 of his 22 deliveries produce dot balls.

Finishing the series with seven wickets at an average of 18.14 and 114 runs at a strike rate of 100.88, no player did more for Bangladesh as they clinched back-to-back bilateral T20I series wins for the first time in their history, following up the triumph over Zimbabwe in emphatic fashion.

"Thanks to my team-mates, this achievement wouldn't have been possible without their help," said Shakib. "I think we played some really good cricket through two series, in Zimbabwe and here. Obviously the wicket was tough, but we held our nerve well."

Modest totals beyond tourists

No match in the series produced an aggregate score of over 244 as both teams found posting big totals difficult.

However, the difference was that Bangladesh scored at least 120 in all but one match. Australia, missing several key players such as Steve Smith and David Warner, managed that feat just once.

Wade admitted as much, adding: "Credit to Bangladesh, they did well. We really had to scrounge, their batsmen found a way to get there [110-120 totals].

"Our bowling was good, but we just didn't have enough runs on the board. We've got to find a way to get better in spinning conditions."

Australia avoided a series whitewash by Bangladesh after winning the fourth T20I by three wickets in Dhaka.

The Tigers wrapped up the series with two matches to spare as they prevailed by 10 runs on Friday.

But despite a fifth successive T20I series defeat, Australia hit back to prevent Bangladesh from completing only a third series clean sweep in their history.

Dan Christian led the way with 39 runs from 15 balls – including a whopping 30 after hitting five sixes during the fourth over – as Justin Langer’s side chased the target of 104.

A further 27 from Ashton Agar moved the visitors to the brink of only a second victory in their last 10 T20Is.

Andrew Tye sealed it with an over to spare and ended Bangladesh’s four-match winning streak.


NO CENTURY FOR SHAKIB

Shakib Al Hasan came into the match just three away from becoming only the second player after Lasith Malinga to take 100 wickets in men’s T20Is – and first for Bangladesh.

However, he failed to add to his tally of 97 and conceded 50 runs during his four overs, including that sensational 30 from Christian.


SWEPSON STEPS UP

Mitch Swepson stepped up to the plate for Australia with three wickets in four overs, while conceding just 13 runs – his new best figures in T20Is.

It was a wonderful return for the spin bowler, who dismissed Mohammad Mahmudullah, Nurul Hasan and Mohammad Naim along the way.

A hat-trick from debutant Nathan Ellis was in vain as Bangladesh prevailed by 10 runs to claim their first ever T20I series win over Australia.

As in the first two games in the five-match rubber, it was a low-scoring affair in Dhaka, with an anchoring 52 from captain Mahmudullah proving vital.

Shakib Al Hasan scored 26 as he and Mahmudullah added 44 for the third wicket – a sizable chunk of Bangladesh's 127-9, which hit the buffers when seamer Ellis (3-34) struck with the final three deliveries of the innings to become the first player to take a hat-trick on his first appearance in this format.

While Bangladesh did not bring such firepower to Australia's response, the home attack strangled hopes of victory with a miserly display that limited the tourists to 117-4.

Left-arm seamer Mustafizur Rahman was the pick with a ludicrously miserly 0-9 from his four overs, while Nasum Ahmed (1-19) and Shakib (1-22) each went at less than a run a ball across their allocations.

Ben McDermott scored 35 at the top of the innings and Mitchell Marsh continued his impressive recent form with 51 from 47 deliveries, although when Shoriful Islam (2-29) had the number three caught at long-on, Alex Carey (20 not out) and Dan Christian (7 not out) were unable to get Australia over the line.

Landmark outing for Zampa

Dhaka has been something of a spinner's paradise and leg-spinner Adam Zampa claimed 2-24, trapping opener Soumya Sarkar lbw on the sweep and having Shakib caught down by Ashton Agar at long-off. It meant Zampa became the second Australian in T20Is to reach 50 wickets after Mitchell Starc.

No runs from Rahman

Perhaps stung by being the second part of Ellis' hat-trick, Mustafizur responded by strangling the life out of Australia. Of his 24 deliveries, 15 were dots – including five in the penultimate over when the game was taken beyond Carey and Christian.

Bangladesh continued to make the most of home comforts against depleted Australia, doubling their lead in the T20I series with a five-wicket win on Wednesday.

Afif Hossain and Nurul Hasan combined superbly in the run chase as Bangladesh recovered from 56-5 to triumph with eight balls to spare in Dhaka.

The Tigers have now won six on the spin in the shortest format, including their last four on the bounce at the Shere Bangla National Stadium. They have never previously won more than three in a row at any venue in T20 cricket.

Bowled out for 108 in the opening game, Australia managed slightly better in their second outing on the short tour, posting 121-7 after winning the toss and opting to bat.

Mitchell Marsh top-scored with 45 from 42 deliveries, including sharing a 57-run stand with Moises Henriques (30), who hit the only six of the innings.

Shakib Al Hasan and Mahedi Hasan contributed 26 and 23 respectively in the reply, yet Bangladesh looked in serious trouble when the latter was stumped by Australia's stand-in skipper Matthew Wade off the bowling of Adam Zampa.

However, Afif Hossain hit an unbeaten 37 that included a six and five fours. Wicketkeeper Nurul (22 not out) played a supporting role as the duo put on a match-winning partnership worth 56.

Australia's T20I woes continue

While without several regulars - skipper Aaron Finch is out through injury, while David Warner, Steve Smith, Glenn Maxwell and Pat Cummins are not on the trip - Australia have now lost seven of their last seven eight T20I outings.

Indeed, they have been beaten in 14 games in the format since the beginning of 2020 - that is level with South Africa for the most losses for any international team across that period.

Mustafizur magic helps restrict the target

Bangladesh had not beaten Australia previously before this series but have quickly claimed a commanding lead with just three games to go in the series.

Mustafizur Rahman was outstanding with the ball in taking 3-23, while Shoriful Islam (2-27) helped Bangladesh reduce their opponents from 88-2 to 106-7 in the space of four overs.

Australia suffered their first T20I defeat to Bangladesh on Tuesday as Nasum Ahmed inspired the hosts to 23-run victory in the first game of the five-match series.

Solid knocks from Mohammad Naim (30) and Shakib Al Hasan (36) set the tourists a target of 131 after they won the toss and elected to field.

Mitchell Marsh continued his strong form from the tour of the West Indies with 45 from as many deliveries, but Nasum's 4-19, which included the wickets of Marsh and stand-in captain Matthew Wade (13), helped Bangladesh to a winning start in their bid for first back-to-back multi-game T20I series victories.

Australia, who finished on 108 all out after Mitchell Starc fell on the final delivery, have now won only one of their past seven T20I matches.

Shakib, bidding to become the first Bangladesh batsman to record 10 scores of 50 or more in T20I contests, got to within 14 runs of that milestone when he was skittled by Josh Hazlewood (3-24).

Shamim Hossain managed just four runs before Starc's full delivery found leg stump, but Afif Hossain led a late charge, three fours taking him to 23 off 17 balls before falling to Starc in the final over.

Australia's chase began in ignominious fashion as Mahedi Hasan's first delivery to Alex Carey smashed into the stumps. Josh Philippe and Moises Henriques then followed in quick succession, the latter succumbing to Shakib's opening ball.

Wade and Marsh took some sting out of the Bangladesh attack, a stand of 38 ending when the Australia captain's sweep was caught by the grateful Mustafizur Rahman at short fine leg.

Ashton Agar endured an embarrassing end to his knock, sticking a boot into his own stumps after scoring seven from 12 deliveries, as Australia's hopes diminished.

Nasun leads the charge

Bangladesh's total looked a realistic target for Australia, especially given their previous perfect record against these opponents.

However, they simply did not look like mounting a challenge once the first three wickets fell for 11 runs as Bangladesh's bowlers, Nasun in particular, made sure the conditions worked in their favour.

"It was outstanding, the hunger and energy was there," said captain Mahmudullah. "The bowlers executed their plans really well. You need to have an attacking mindset with the ball early on; that's what we did."

Starc contrast

Starc claimed the final two wickets of Bangladesh's innings to reach 50 in T20Is. He is the first Australian to register a half-century in this format and two clear of previous all-time leading wicket-taker Shane Watson.

That had put Australia in a good position to chase down a relatively modest total, but Marsh was the only man to score 15 or more as they struggled badly against the spin attack on a challenging surface.

England's planned tour of Bangladesh, which was due to take place in September and October, has been postponed until March 2023.

The England and Wales Cricket Board (ECB) and Bangladesh "mutually" came to an agreement for the rescheduling, according to the ECB.

The ECB's statement on their official website on Tuesday said: "The England and Wales Cricket Board and the Bangladesh Cricket Board have mutually decided to reschedule the tour, which includes three One Day Internationals and three T20 internationals.

"The tour is planned to take place in the first two weeks of March 2023, with three ODIs and three T20Is due to take place at the SBNCS, Dhaka, and the ZACS, in Chattogram."

With both England and Bangladesh facing packed international calendars and the necessity for teams to stay in protected team bubbles or monitored environments, COVID-19 has been a driving force for the postponement.

The decision means both sets of international stars could now also be available for the rearranged Indian Premier League, which restarts in September in the United Arab Emirates.

Eoin Morgan's limited-overs side are still set to face Pakistan in two T20Is in October before the T20 World Cup begins in the UAE on October 17.

Before the T20Is and T20 World Cup get underway, England play a five-Test series against India, with the first taking place at Trent Bridge on Wednesday.

The hosts will be without Ben Stokes, who has decided to rest his injured finger and protect his mental wellbeing as he takes an indefinite break from cricket.

Australia will be aiming to preserve their 100 per cent record against Bangladesh in T20I action when a five-match series begins in Dhaka on Tuesday.

Matthew Wade will captain Australia in place of Aaron Finch, who is to undergo surgery on a knee injury, while Steve Smith, David Warner, Glenn Maxwell and Marcus Stoinis are also not part of the touring squad.

Pat Cummins is another notable absentee, though the visitors still boast a strong bowling attack that is set to be led by Mitchell Starc, who is on the brink of becoming his country's all-time leading wicket-taker in the shortest format.

The left-arm paceman has 48 wickets to his name, putting him in a tie for top spot on Australia's list alongside former team-mate Shane Watson.

Set to keep wicket as well as lead the team, Wade – likely to bat in the middle order, a role he seems likely to fill for the T20 World Cup later this year – understands the issues that come with taking on a dual role.

"I'm obviously wicketkeeping, so the distance between the bowler and myself is a lot greater and that means there's a lot more responsibility on the individual," he told reporters.

"When you come in and take over from someone it's just about giving the ability for those guys to really take ownership of their game and at the top of the mark, they need to execute."

Bangladesh have some key figures missing too, including injured opening batsman Tamim Iqbal. As for Mushfiqur Rahim and Liton Das, they are not involved having failed to meet requirements for the bio-secure bubble agreed upon by the two respective cricket boards ahead of the series.

Mushfiqur left the recent tour of Zimbabwe early for family reasons amid the COVID-19 health crisis and could not make the July 20 cut-off date.

While they have lost all four previous T20I meetings between the countries, Bangladesh will recognise they are facing vulnerable opponents. Australia have lost each of their previous four series in Twenty20 cricket, a run that started after a 2-1 triumph over South Africa in February 2020.

Bangladesh, meanwhile, have won three of their last four men's T20Is played at the Shere Bangla National Stadium, venue for all five matches.


Marsh makes an all-round impact

Mitchell Marsh excelled on the tour of the West Indies, finishing up as leading run-scorer in the T20 games (219 at an average of 43.80). However, his work with the ball was just as impressive in the Caribbean, claiming eight wickets while going at an economy rate of 6.76 runs per over. 

The 29-year-old all-rounder has a bowling average of 10.1 in T20Is since the beginning of 2019, the best by any player from a Test-playing country in that time (minimum 10 overs bowled).

Star Shakib needs to shine

Bangladesh's batting line-up is weakened by the absences of Tamim, Mushfiqur and Das, meaning even greater responsibility could land on the shoulders of Shakib Al Hasan.

The all-rounder is on the cusp of becoming the first player to record 10 scores of 50 or more for Bangladesh in T20I action. His batting average in the format against Australia (35.8) is his second best against any team, only managing better against Pakistan (41.7).

Key series facts

- Australia's 4-0 record against Bangladesh in T20I action is the most number of games they have played against any country without suffering defeat.

- Bangladesh will be aiming to win back-to-back multi-game T20I series for the first time, after defeating Zimbabwe 2-1 in July 2021.

- Australia have won only one of their last T20Is (L5), a four-run victory over West Indies in July 2021.

- Bangladesh have scored 52 per cent of their runs from boundaries in T20Is since the beginning of 2019, the second lowest rate of any Test-playing country in that time (Sri Lanka: 45 per cent).

- Australia have a bowling dot ball percentage of 37 per cent in T20I fixtures since the beginning of 2019, the highest rate of any Test-playing country in that time and two percentage points higher than Bangladesh (35 per cent).

Dan Christian has been added to Australia's preliminary squad for the white-ball tours of West Indies and Bangladesh along with uncapped pacemen Wes Agar and Nathan Ellis.

The selectors announced an initial party of 23 to face the Windies and the Tigers, featuring a number of players who played in an Indian Premier League that was cut short due to the coronavirus pandemic.

They have now added Christian, Agar, Ellis, Ben McDermott, Cameron Green and Ashton Turner.

All-rounder Christian, 38, and wicketkeeper-batsman McDermott will end spells in England with Nottinghamshire and Derbyshire respectively to fly home and complete the mandatory two-week quarantine period before the final squad's scheduled departure for the Caribbean late in June.

Christian has not played for his country since October 2017, while Agar and Ellis will be hoping to make their international debuts.

Promising all-rounder Green made his ODI bow against India last December, while Turner has featured in the 50-over format six times and played 11 Twenty20 Internationals.

Confirmation of the tours are subject to agreement on bio-security arrangements and relevant government approvals.

West Indies captain Kraigg Brathwaite was a happy man on Thursday upon hearing the news that his team is now sixth on the ICC Test rankings, up from eighth following improved performances against Bangladesh and Sri Lanka in recent months.

Promising West Indies batsman, Kyle Mayers, has expressed confidence at the prospect of becoming a top international Test cricket all-rounder, on the back of encouraging displays with both the bat and ball in recent months.

The attacking-minded Mayers burst on the scene with a stroke-filled 210 unbeaten in the first Test against Bangladesh, in February of this year.  However, against Sri Lanka last month, the player also had a good turn with the ball.  Not only extracting movement from a placid pitch but taking four wickets in the process, with just a short spell.

The display prompted some pundits to suggest that the player had the ability to become a dependable all-rounder for the squad if he could improve his overall fitness.

Bowling would not have been entirely new to Mayers, however, as he was at one point considered more of a bowling all-rounder, having claimed 71 wickets in 30 first-class matches at an average of 21.54.  Having displayed more prowess with the bat in recent months, Mayers is convinced that he can do both at the highest level in the mold of former West Indies captain Jason Holder, or England’s Ben Stokes, the world’s top-ranked all-rounders.

“I have it in me to do it.  I just have to become fitter,” Mayer’s told SportsMax’s The Commentators podcast.

“I just started Test cricket and people think watching it on tv, it’s very easy, it’s very hard.  I will always say that, and I will always let young people coming up know that if you want to play Test cricket you need to work very hard,” he added.

“Preparation is key for me to be up there with Jason.  It will take that hard work, but I believe I can do it for sure.  Having number one and maybe number two in the world can’t be so bad.  If they had two of the world’s best all-rounders the guys would be happy.”

 Catch full interview in the Podcast below

 

 

Legendary West Indies captain, Clive Lloyd, believes that the fighting spirit and professional display that led to a 2-0 series win, in Bangladesh, has spread to the rest of the team.

So far, the general consensus is that the regional team has, at times, been fairly impressive in the ongoing series against Sri Lanka.  They battled to a 2-1 win in the T20 series, but then swept the visitors aside in a confident display during the One Day International series.

Lloyd believes some of that confidence stems from the performance of the Kraigg Brathwaite unit, which was understrength and underestimated heading to last month’s tour of Bangladesh but battled to a surprise 2-0 Test series win.

“I believe it is because of the way our players played in Bangladesh, that it trickled down.  They put their head down and batted intelligently and won,” Lloyd told the Mason and Guest radio program.

“It galvanized those other guys to do the same.  We had 274, 270-odd and we looked good.  We batted well. (Things were tighter) in the T20s but we won out because we are getting that professional attitude back and that I think it is because of the guys winning in Bangladesh.”

The team will look to take the momentum into the two-match Test series, which will get underway on Sunday.

 

 

 

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