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Kusal Mendis

Mendis brilliance underscores record-breaking Sri Lanka chase

Ban v SL, 1st T20, report

Sri Lanka's highest-ever successful T20 run-chase takes up just 16.4 overs.

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Under the lights at Mirpur, Sri Lanka made easy work of an imposing total by Bangladesh to take a 1-0 lead in the two-match T20 series.

The foundations to Sri Lanka’s highest-ever successful T20 chase were laid by the openers Kusal Mendis and Danush Gunathilaka, whose rambunctious 53-run partnership – compiled in 4.5 overs – made a serious dent in Bangladesh’s 193/5 and enabled the middle-order to coast to victory with 3.2 overs to spare.

Mendis’ 53 from 27 balls was a gem of an innings. The much-vaunted Sri Lankan strokemaker has been rejuvenated since being promoted to open the innings in Test cricket, making 196 and 68 against Bangladesh across the two recent Test matches, and he was dominant again here, striking eight fours and two sixes before, having taken 13 already off Afif Hossain’s over, holing out to long-off going for a third.

Kusal Mendis struck eight fours and two sixes in his 27-ball stay
Kusal Mendis struck eight fours and two sixes in his 27-ball stay

It was the 18-year-old Hossain’s first ever victim in international cricket, and as one of four debutants in an experimental Bangladesh line-up, he was not alone in enduring a tough day with the ball. The most impressive of the newcomers was Nazmul Islam, whose slow left-arm spin proved by far the most potent of Bangladesh’s attack, delivering his four overs for just 25 and claiming two wickets.

It was a sign of the trueness of the pitch that Mahmudullah, the Bangladesh captain, felt his side were 10-15 runs short at the halfway stage. Their innings was based around Mushfiqur Rahim’s unbeaten 66 (44 balls) and another classy contribution from Soumya Sarkar, who at 24 and with a maiden ODI century already under his belt, is beginning to establish himself as a key man in the national set-up.

Soumya Sarkar was expansive for Bangladesh in the first 10 overs
Soumya Sarkar was expansive for Bangladesh in the first 10 overs

 Sarkar’s dashing 32-ball 51 came to an end to the first ball of Jeevan Mendis’ spell, and his ill-judged reverse sweep stunted Bangladesh’s progress; after his dismissal, right on the halfway mark of the innings, only 93 further runs were added from the final 10 overs.

After Sri Lanka’s flying start, the business end of the innings was coolly negotiated by Dasun Shanaka (42*) and Thisara Perera (39*), whose unbroken 65-run stand was posted in just five overs as Bangladesh’s resistance faded.

Dasun Shanaka iced the match for Sri Lanka with an unbeaten 42
Dasun Shanaka iced the match for Sri Lanka with an unbeaten 42

Kusal Mendis was the deserved Player of the Match, and after a barren spell with the bat and a short time away from the fray to recharge, it now appears that Sri Lanka’s most talented and trailed young batsman is back to his best. Mendis may have alighted on his perfect position in the order, and across all formats. It can only be good news for Sri Lanka.

The second and final match in the series takes place at Sylhet on Sunday, 18 February.

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