Kusal Perera scored his 10th T20I fifty © AFP
Kusal Perera scored his 10th T20I fifty © AFP

Kusal Perera has been Sri Lanka’s star in the ongoing Nidahas Trophy 2018. In a virtual semi-final against Bangladesh, Kusal, in alliance with captain Thisara Perera, steered Sri Lanka’s innings to some respectability despite a top-order collapse. Bangladesh could not maintain pressure in the death overs, and have been asked to chase down 160 to qualify for the final against India on Sunday.

Sri Lanka were off to a poor start, courtesy Shakib Al Hasan and Mustafizur Rahman. Both bowlers picked wickets in their first overs. Danuskha Gunathilaka (4) fell to Shakib for 4, while Kusal Mendis (11) was claimed by Mustafizur. Kusal Perera and Upul Tharanga tried to build a partnership before a mix-up resulted in Tharanga (5) getting run out. Two balls after running Tharanga out, Fizz got Dasun Shanaka caught behind for a duck.

Jeevan Mendis lasted 11 balls before handing a simple catch to short fine-leg off Mehedi Hasan. At this stage Thisara found himself in the middle along with Kusal Perera. The Pereras then took Sri Lanka past 50. Kusal hit Fizz for six and four to reach 1,000 T20I runs; he became the fastest Sri Lankan to the landmark.

With Kusal going great guns, the pair reached 50 in 36 balls.  Kusal reached his 10th T20I fifty in 32 deliveries. The pair also notched highest sixth-wicket stand (97) for Sri Lanka in T20Is.

Thisara seized the opportunity and pounded Bangladesh’s bowling for plenty in the end. Fizz, who had started well, gave away 35 in this final 2 overs. Kusal finally departed for 61 to give Soumya Sarkar his maiden T20I wicket.

Thisara reached his maiden T20I half-century in 33 balls, with 2 fours and 3 sixes. He fell for 58, courtesy a juggling catch by Tamim Iqbal. Sri Lanka closed their innings on 159 for 7.

Brief score:

Sri Lanka 159 for 7 (Kusal Perera 61 , Thisara Perera 58 ; Mustafizur Rahman 2 for 39) vs Bangladesh