Kusal Perera's maiden half-century took Sri Lanka to a match-winning total against Bangladesh. © AFP

Kusal Perera's maiden half-century took Sri Lanka to a match-winning total against Bangladesh. © AFP

Kusal Perera cracked a 44-ball 64 to help Sri Lanka beat Bangladesh by 17 runs in the one-off Twenty20 International against Bangladesh in Pallekele on Sunday (March 31). Sri Lanka piled up a sizeable 198 for 5 after being put in to bat, and though Bangladesh fought gamely, they could manage only 181 for 7.

Perera, who opened the innings, hit four sixes and five fours in his quickfire knock before falling in the 12th over, caught by Mushfiqur Rahim, the captain and wicketkeeper, off Mohammad Mahmudullah.

Jeevan Mendis and Angelo Mathews then put on 66 for the fifth wicket off just 5.5 overs to help their side set a stiff target. Mendis hit three sixes, including two in an over from Abdur Razzak, the left-arm spinner, and two fours in his 17-ball 37 while Mathews contributed an unbeaten 30 off 27 deliveries.

Sri Lanka plundered 32 off the last 13 balls, with Thisara Perera making a seven-ball 22 not out with two sixes and as many fours.

“I am happy about my first win as captain,” said Dinesh Chandimal, the Sri Lanka captain. “Kusal Perera gave us the start and we continued after that. We put up a good total and that is why we won.”

Perera played attacking shots against both pace and spin at the start, as Sri Lanka raced to 52 in the opening five overs, in a brisk start to the innings. He hit Shahadat Hossain, the seamer, for two fours and a six in the first over of the match before smashing two more sixes, one each off the spin duo of Sohag Gazi and Razzak. He completed a maiden T20I half-century in the eighth over off just 30 balls.

Bangladesh’s reply was hampered by no batsman going on to get a big score in spite of several of them getting their eye in, though Mohammad Ashraful, who hit 43 off 27, was unlucky to be adjudged leg-before wicket to Thisara Perera, with the ball striking him outside leg-stump, and leaving Bangladesh 68 for 3 in eight overs. The dismissal came at a particularly unfortunate time for Bangladesh, with Ashraful having hit Perera for two consecutive sixes and a four in that over.

Rahim (39 off 29) and Mahmudullah (31 off 18) kept Bangladesh in the hunt with a stand of 50 for the fifth wicket in just 4.5 overs, but both fell in the 15th over. Sri Lanka went from 135 for 3 to 137 for 6 as the chase lost steam.

Bangladesh were left ruing their profligacy with the ball, conceding as many as 19 wides, while Sri Lanka conceded only five wides, and their discipline with the ball made a significant difference to the final result. “We gave 20 runs more and that made the difference,” said Rahim.

With this win, Sri Lanka continued to be the top-ranked team in the ICC Twenty20 rankings.