Kusal Mendis, who had scored his maiden ODI ton for Sri Lanka in the last game, scored a fifty in the 3rd ODI    AFP
Kusal Mendis, who had scored his maiden ODI ton for Sri Lanka in the last game, scored a fifty in the 3rd ODI AFP

Sri Lanka have set Bangladesh a challenging victory target of 281 runs in the third and final One-Day International (ODI) of the series at Colombo. The hosts need to win this match to save the series which is currently led by Bangladesh 1-0. The visitors had won the first ODI in Dambulla by 90 runs before the second match at the same venue got washed out after Sri Lanka scoring 311. Bangladesh just need a draw to win the series and their loss in this game will level the series 1-1. In the must-win match, Sri Lanka s charge was led by fifties from Kusal Mendis and Thisara Perera while useful contributions from other batsmen also came in handy. LIVE CRICKET SCORECARD: Bangladesh vs Sri Lanka 3rd ODI at Colombo

Earlier, Mashrafe Mortaza won the toss and invited his opponents to bat first. Sri Lanka, in last 31 years, have only twice not won a single game in a bilateral ODI series at home. They faced similar prospect this time around and to avoid the embarrassment of a series-defeat against Bangladesh at home, they needed their batsmen to fire just like the last game. Their openers did get them off to a good start, bringing up the 50 in the 7th over.

Upul Tharanga was the aggressor of the two, as he hit Mustafizur Rahman and Mortaza for for 18 runs in the space of 6 balls, triggering a bowling change, which actually worked in the vistors favour. Both Mortaza and Mustafizur looked uninspiring and unimaginative in the beginning of their spell and Mehedi Hasan Miraz, the first-change bowler, brought team the first breakthrough.

Danushka Gunathilaka (34) failed to keep the drive on the ground and handed a simple catch to Mahmudullah, handing Mehedi his only wicket. The shot was definitely on there, but the execution was wrong. Tharanga, who made run-a-ball 35, soon followed him to the pavilion when hat-trick hero from the last game Taskin Ahmed cleaned him up.

Mendis and Dinesh Chandimal (21) then added 49 runs for the third wicket before a freakish run-out ended the latter s stay in the middle. Chandimal was casually returning back to the striker s end for his second run but was caught short of crease in the most bizzare of fashions. His bat was inside the line but he lifted it when the bails were dislodged by Mushfiqur Rahim. Sadly for Sri Lanka, his feet were also in the air. Poor and lazy cricket from Chandimal cost Sri Lanka an important wicket at a crucial juncture in the game.

Mendis, nonetheless, kept going and brought up his ninth ODI fifty. However, he was dismissed at a time when Sri Lanka needed him the most. He perished immediately after his fifty, trying to run down a Mustafizur delivery to the third man. Milinda Siriwardena too was run-out as a result of a mix-up with Mendis. From here, it was left to Thisara and Asela Gunaratne.

While Gunaratne fell after scoring 34, Thisara continued to accumulate runs. He played a characteristic knock of 52 off just 40 balls. His fifty 7th of his career came of just 37 balls, with 4 fours and a six. He got a decent support from Dilruwan Perera (15) towards the end, as the two added 45 runs for the 8th wicket. Thisara was eventually dismissed in the final over, ensuring his side went past the 275-run mark, a challenging total.

For Bangladesh, skipper Mortaza ended up with figures of 3 for 65, while Mustafizur picked up 2 for 55. Mehedi and Taskin took a wicket apiece while 2 wickets came through superlative effort in the field as run-outs.

Sri Lankan bowlers now need to restrict Bangladesh on or below 279 to avoid a series loss.

Brief scores:

Sri Lanka 280 for 9 from 50 overs (Kusal Mendis 54, Thisara Perera 52, Upul Tharanga 35; Mashrafe Mortaza 2 for 65, Mustafizur Rahman 2 for 55) vs Bangladesh.