In the lead-up to their knockout match on Thursday, Sri Lanka and Bangladesh exchanged cheap blows. The two teams, known by the nicknames The Lions and The Tigers, were presumably venting their anger after being forced into a corner over the course of the previous five days by Afghanistan, one of the “newbies” of international cricket.
After 39.2 overs of action, Bangladesh’s bowling collapsed as Sri Lanka, the tournament’s hosts, successfully chased down a challenging 184-run total with two wickets in hand to advance to the Super 4s.
It was an ego conflict for both teams. On the pitch, both squads showed up and started fighting. When Dasun Shanaka, the captain of Sri Lanka, said that Bangladesh was “a significantly easier opponent” than Afghanistan, a lot depended on him. Shanaka set the tone for the chase with a 33-ball 45 as Kusal Mendis’s 37-ball 60 placed tremendous pressure on the Bangladesh bowlers, who failed to defend 35 for the second time in a row in the final three overs.
Bangladesh would not be hesitant. Every batter who entered the game, led by Miraz, immediately tried to throw their bats away. After Khaled’s statement, there couldn’t have been a backward step. Even after Miraz was bowled by Sri Lanka’s top leg spinner Wanindu Hasaranga in his first over, they neutralised him. Afif Hossain (39 off 22), Mahmudullah (27 off 22), and Mosaddek Hossain (24* off 9) took advantage of the added pace and successfully concluded the innings. Sri Lankan pacers attempted to strike the pitch hard.