DHAKA // Mashrafe Mortaza said he has an easy life captaining Bangladesh at present, after they beat Sri Lanka by 23 runs in the Asia Cup.
The result means the hosts could clinch a place in Sunday’s final if they beat Pakistan next time they take they take the field on Wednesday.
It also added to a lengthy list of achievements on Mortaza’s watch as captain. Last year, they claimed series wins over Pakistan and India for the first time in Bangladesh’s history.
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This rousing win, in front of another packed and pulsating crowd at the National Cricket Stadium, was their first in Twenty20 Internationals against Sri Lanka.
“The boys are making my life very easy,” Mortaza said. “Hopefully we can keep it going and we can keep winning from here.”
This pitch had a totally different look to it to the one on which the bowlers of India and Pakistan had wrought havoc the previous night.
MS Dhoni, India’s captain, had complained after that game that such playing surfaces are neither good for preparing for next month’s World Twenty20, nor do they make for particularly good cricket at all.
When Dhoni speaks, people usually listen, and the wicket for Bangladesh against Sri Lanka had had a complete facelift.
Where the pitch had been so green it was barely discernible which bit of the field was cut and which was not for the previous match, this time there was barely a blade of grass on it.
Either way, few people are finding batting easy in Mirpur at present. Bangladesh, for example, found few home comforts as they were first two for two at the start of their innings, then 26 for three.
Through it all, Sabbir Rahman played a spectacular hand. His 54-ball innings of 80 was chancy, but it was eventually the difference between the sides.
He was handed one slice of luck, when Chamara Kapugedara helped him to his half century by palming a catch over the boundary rope.
“It was a good opportunity when I came in first wicket down and I just played positively and played to my strengths,” Sabbir said.
Sri Lanka started solidly in reply, but wilted as the rate required increased, with Shakib Al Hasan and Al Amin Hossain the stars with the ball for the hosts.
The present and immediate future for Sri Lanka appear worrying. Champion batsmen like Mahela Jayawardene and Kumar Sangakkara are long gone.
It looks alarmingly like Lasith Malinga, Sri Lanka’s Twenty20 captain, might not be far behind them as well.
The fast bowler limped away from the win over the UAE in their opening game, and spoke openly about the fact his career could have months rather than years left to run.
This time around he was just a forlorn-looking spectator, watching the action unfold from the Sri Lanka bench with heavy strapping on his injured left knee.
“We have got no choice,” Angelo Mathews, the stand in captain, said. “We have to stick around, be patient, and it is a learning curve.
“We are going to have to do it the hard way. We are going to have to beat India and Pakistan if we are going to make the final. We will try out best.”
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