In Pallekele, despite Najmul Hossain Shanto’s valiant 89, Sri Lanka’s bowlers bowled out the remainder of the Bangladesh batting order for 164.
Matheesha Pathirana finished with career-best figures of 4 for 32, while the consistently outstanding Mahesh Theekshana scooped up two.
But it was Dhananjaya de Silva and Dunith Wellalage who provided the platform for Sri Lanka’s strike bowlers to flourish, as the right-arm and left-arm spin combination ripped through the middle overs, never allowing the batters to score freely, and most importantly, allowing Sri Lanka captain Dasun Shanaka to hold off on reintroducing Theekshana and Pathirana.
In the absence of the ailing Wanindu Hasaranga, Sri Lanka lacked one strike bowler, making this crucial. On a sometimes two-paced Pallekele surface, however, Sri Lanka’s bowlers maintained excellent lines and lengths and never really allowed Bangladesh’s batsmen to gain the upper hand for an extended period of time.
Theekshana began proceedings by capturing debutant Tanzid Hasan lbw in the game’s second over. Mohammed Naim was dismissed by Dhananjaya after obtaining a commanding edge while swiping across the line.
The innings had begun slowly. In the eleventh over, Shakib Al Hasan was caught behind off Pathirana, leaving Bangladesh floundering at 36 for 3.
Shanto and Towhid Hridoy put on a stand of 59 to give Bangladesh a foothold in the game, but the strain that had been built up during the middle overs began to take its toll. Shanaka brought himself on and via DRS had Hridoy leg before.
Mushfiqur Rahim and Shanto added 32 runs for the fifth wicket, but Mushfiqur Rahim fell victim to a textbook stratagem – a pair of full deliveries followed by a short one – and was caught in deep third.
As Pathirana and Theekshana went through the lower order, no other Bangladeshi batter was able to keep Shanto company after Mushfiqur’s departure. Only Hridoy was able to score 20 runs, while only two other batsmen reached double digits.