That Bangladesh won the opening match of the Asia Cup against Sri Lanka yesterday by a crushing 137-run margin at the Dubai International Cricket Stadium does not even begin to tell the story. Mushfiqur Rahim scoring a career-best 144 off 150 balls to lift Bangladesh to 261 after Bangladesh were reduced to one run for two wickets by the end of the first over by danger man Lasith Malinga reveals a bit more, but still not the full picture.
It was the rare occurrence of a 50-over match turning on one delivery -- in the 47th over when opener Tamim Iqbal strode out at number 11, when all the players had thought Mustafizur Rahman's run out was the end of the innings, and played out one delivery with a broken left wrist tucked behind his hip -- that speaks volumes.
That bit of bravery for the cause of the team -- Bangladesh were just 229 for nine in 46.5 overs on a good batting wicket when Tamim strode out -- galvanised Bangladesh and judging by Sri Lanka's sorry 124 all out, thoroughly demoralised the opposition. Tamim played out the last delivery of the over from Suranga Lakmal -- who had sent him to the hospital with a bouncer that pinged his left wrist in the second over -- and did not need to play another as Mushfiqur pummelled 32 runs off the next 15 balls, farming the strike and unfurling shots of pure genius that resulted in three fours and three sixes that took his tally to 11 and four respectively for the innings. He fell with three balls still left, but by then the tide had irrevocably turned.
Sri Lanka's demoralisation and perhaps the burgeoning rivalry with the Tigers that rendered statement-making more important than rationality showed in opener Upul Tharanga's batting. He hit the second ball from skipper Mashrafe Bin Mortaza for six and faced all the first 16 deliveries, scoring 27 runs. But Mustafizur Rahman had Kusal Mendis adjudged leg-before off the first delivery he faced, a decision that was upheld upon review.
The dam had burst and Bangladesh were on their way to a near flawless display on the field. Mashrafe, as always, was immense as he got Tharanga to chop on from around the wicket in the third over and then caught Dhananjaya plumb in front in his next over. Off-spinner Mehedi Hasan Miraz got into the act soon by dismissing Kusal Perera to have Sri Lanka on 38 for four in the 10th over.
The only bit of resistance from Sri Lanka was a 22-run fifth-wicket stand between captain Angelo Mathews and Dasun Shanaka that ended when Shanaka was run out in the 17th over. Mathews followed three runs later, trapped in front by Rubel Hossain in his first over. When Bangladesh cricket's bogeyman Thisara Perera was caught off Mehedi to leave Sri Lanka on 69 for six, it was all over bar the singing. Dilruwan Perera and Lakmal scored 29 and 20 respectively, but the former was stumped off Mosaddek Hossain and the latter bowled by Mustafizur Rahman. Shakib Al Hasan then ensured that all the bowlers used got a wicket by getting Amila Aponso caught to tie the knot on an utterly dominant performance.
But while the bowling was the picture of teamwork, earlier after Bangladesh won the toss, the batting was mainly about three players. After Malinga rolled back the years by taking the first two of his four wickets -- Liton Das and Shakib -- in the first over and Tamim was sent off by Lakmal, Mushfiqur and youngster Mohammad Mithun strung together a 131-run fourth-wicket stand that started very slowly -- the first boundary did not come till the end of the eighth over -- and picked up pace after the 10th over when first Mithun opened up during a 68-ball 63. Both batsmen benefitted from extra lives -- Mithun was dropped off Malinga when on one and Mushfiqur was dropped off Thisara on 10 -- but they capitalised on their opportunities. Mithun hit two sixes and a four in the 15th over from Kusal Perera.
A typical bit of brain fade from the junior batsman resulted in the partnership being broken when Mithun slogged Malinga straight up to be caught inside the circle. That resulted in a flurry of wickets as Bangladesh fell from 132 for two to 175 for six with all the specialist batsmen except Mushfiqur gone and news filtering through that Tamim would not bat.
Mushfiqur marshalled the tail to take the score to 229 before Mustafizur was run out. Then Tamim played the fourth and last ball of an unbeaten innings, which helped lift Mushfiqur's innings from a very good one to an unarguably great ODI innings.