Mohammed Isam, in ESPNcrcinfo, 29 July 2019 with this title “Avishka Fernando, Angelo Mathews star as Sri Lanka wrap up series win”
Sri Lanka 242 for 3 (Avishka 82, Mathews 52*, Kusal Mendis 41*, Mustafizur 2-50) beat Bangladesh 238 for 8 (Mushfiqur 98*, Mehidy 43, Dananjaya 2-39, Pradeep 2-53, Udana 2-58) by seven wickets
Sri Lanka made an auspicious start to life after the 2019 World Cup, clinching the ODI series against Bangladesh with one game to spare. They won the second ODI by seven wickets after their bowlers put together a great team effort. Their batsmen saw off tricky periods in their chase, but mostly dominated the visitors who posted 238 for 8 after deciding to bat first. It is Sri Lanka’s first series win at home in three-and-a-half years, and it came via a combination of young and experienced players.
Avishka Fernando‘s stunning 82 came off 75 balls, including nine fours and two sixes, and he gave Sri Lanka the perfect start in their chase. He added 71 for the first wicket with Dimuth Karunaratne and 58 for the second with Kusal Perera, before Angelo Mathews and Kusal Mendis steered Sri Lanka home with an unbroken fourth-wicket stand of 96.
Avishka jumped to life in the sixth over when he cracked Shafiul Islam for three fours in a row, punching him off the backfoot twice before pulling one high through square-leg. He struck Mustafizur Rahman for two more fours in the eighth over, before pulling him in his next over for his first six.
Karunaratne’s dismissal in the 12th over hardly slowed down Avishka, who slog-swept his second six and struck two more fours. He was dropped on 77, albeit with Mosaddek Hossain making the best of a tough catch running in from deep cover. Avishka, however, fell in the next over, miscuing a Mustafizur cutter, having put Sri Lanka in a strong position.
There was a slight wobble in the 25th over when Kusal Perera, having made 30, was caught at cover off Mustafizur, but Mendis and Mathews ensured a smooth ending to the chase. They played out four overs without forcing the issue, but the introduction of a part-timer, Sabbir Rahman, released the pressure, with a boundary coming off his second ball and shifting the momentum towards Sri Lanka. Mathews and Mendis soon picked up fours off Shafiul, Soumya and Mustafizur, and steadily took Sri Lanka to the target in 44.4 overs. Mathews finished unbeaten on 52 off 57 balls with seven fours while Mendis was not out on 41 off 74 balls with four fours.
They may have had to chase far less had Mushfiqur Rahim not rescued Bangladesh from the depths of 116 for 7. Mushfiqur and Mehidy Hasan changed the course of the innings with an 84-run partnership for the seventh wicket, Mehidy playing the aggressor with six fours in his 43.
Mushfiqur’s plan, meanwhile, was to bat deep, and it worked out well as he remained unbeaten on 98. He didn’t go too hard at the bowling until a 16-run penultimate over, when he hit two fours and a six off Isuru Udana. His approach was dictated by the wickets Bangladesh had lost, and a sluggish R Premadasa Stadium pitch that offered turn for the spinners.
Akila Dananjaya, in his first match back for Sri Lanka, made full use of the pitch, finishing with 2 for 39. Nuwan Pradeep and Isuru Udana also took two wickets each but the home side started to flag after the 35th over, and enabled the Mushfiqur-Mehidy partnership to flourish.
But in their first match after Lasith Malinga’s exit, Lahiru Kumara and Nuwan Pradeep stepped up really well. Albeit through a tame full-toss, Sri Lanka’s first wicket came when Soumya Sarkar was trapped lbw. Tamim was bowled for the sixth game in a row, dragging Udana on to his stumps in the ninth over.
Mohammad Mithun and Mahmudullah fell to Dananjaya, who made the ball rip from outside off stump plenty of times in his first spell. It was also in his over that Sabbir Rahman was run out after a mix-up with Mushfiqur. Mosaddek Hossain fell to a Udana bouncer, leaving Bangladesh six down in the 33rd over.
Mushfiqur’s fight managed to make it a more interesting game but ultimately Bangladesh were at least 30 runs short.
A COMMENT: I was busy and not at the grounds and only saw the Sri Lankan Innings when the two Kusal’s were at the crease. The Bangla bowling was wayward and sub-standard. Set within this framework and a target that was within easy reach after Avishka Fernando’s histrionics, the batting stand between Kusal Mendis and Angelo Matthews was painful and laboured — till Matthews moved into attack towards the end.
Kusal Mendis is a worry. His stroke-map should be studied and dissected. How many times does he find the short-midwikcet -even fro balls outside the offstump? Is he incapable of an on-drive or push to mid-on? Can he off-drive? These are “fundamentals trokes because safe strokes?
Given that Matthews is not quick between wickets and a danger to himself and partners in this running-realm, can Sri Lanka afford to have Mendis, Matthews and Thirimanne at 4, 5 and 6? In this view an attacking batsman should be slotted in at 5 or 6 …. with Matthews moved to 6, and Thirimanne replaced by, say, Oshadie Fernando (or Dasun Shanaka if the latter reveals more consistent capacities). Dhanajaya could also be moved up and ‘released’ to play freely.