Charith Asalanka starred and Bhanuka Rajapaksa celebrated his birthday with a half-century as Sri Lanka beat Bangladesh by five wickets in the T20 World Cup.

Mohammad Naim (62 off 52 balls) and Mushfiqur Rahim (57 not out from 37) got the Tigers up to 171-4 after they were put in the battle of the qualifiers at Sharjah Cricket Stadium on Sunday.

Sri Lanka were in trouble on 79-4 when Wanindu Hasaranga fell after Shakib Al Hasan (2-17) dismissed Pathum Nissanka and Avishka Fernando in the ninth over.

Asalanka and Rajapaksa came to the rescue with a fifth-wicket stand of 86, setting up a victory in their opening Super 12 game that was sealed with seven balls to spare.

Opener Asalanka returned to form with a brilliant unbeaten 80 from 49 balls, while Rajapaksa benefited from two gifts from Liton Das on his 30th birthday.

The left-hander from Colombo was dropped twice by Das and capitalised on those let-offs by scoring 53 off 31 balls before departing in the penultimate over.

Sri Lanka's highest successful run chase moved them level on points with leaders England and Australia in Group 1, also halting a run of three consecutive T20 defeats against the Tigers.

 

TIgers batsmen Naim and Mushfiqur show their teeth

Naim and Mushfiqur played superbly to get the Tigers up to a good total after they were 56-2 in the eighth over when the dangerous Shakib departed, having been cleaned up by Chamika Karunaratne (1-12) for only 10.

Opener Naim brought up his fourth T20I half-century – and a second of the tournament – off 44 balls, finding the rope six times before he was caught and bowled by Binura Fernando. Mushfiqur struck two sixes in an enterprising, classy knock as he brought out his full repertoire of strokes.

Asalanka steps up, Rajapaksa grateful for Das gifts

Sri Lanka had been going along well on 54-1 at the end of the powerplay, but there was work to do when the Rajapaksa joined Asalanka at the crease.

Das spilled the birthday boy in the deep when he was on 14 and then 23 as Bangladesh felt the heat. Asalanka never looked troubled in his maiden T20I half-century, hitting five sixes and as many fours, with Rajapaksa clearing the rope three times in an impressive run chase.

West Indies captain Kieron Pollard said the T20 World Cup defending champions would have to take a wretched performance against England on the chin.

A desperate 55 all out from West Indies allowed England to sprint to a six-wicket victory in Dubai, with this Group 1 clash a rematch of the 2016 final.

England's small measure of revenge for that heartbreaking defeat stemmed from West Indies posting the second-lowest T20 international total by a Test-playing nation.

Pollard said: "Being bowled out for 50-odd as an international team is never acceptable but we'll come back stronger."

He explained: "We didn't bat well and it's disappointing to start our tournament like that, being defending champions.

"But we have to accept it and take responsibility for what happened out there. We have to put this game to bed and move on.

"We just need to go back and look at the way we've performed and see if we can maybe find a medium as to how we approach it. It's very important we forget a game like this. For us, it's pretty simple – accept and move on."

Pollard sought to find a positive by praising the "intensity in the field" of his players as England chased their small target.

An England victory was all but a formality, however, and for Adil Rashid it was a day to remember, England's spinner taking 4-2 from 2.2 overs.

Rashid said afterwards: "I don't think we could have asked for a better start. We bowled exceptionally well and everything went to plan."

He added: "As a bowling unit, we know we have five or six match-winners and on any given day anyone can come on and get wickets. We don't want to look too far ahead and we'll take it a game at a time. Whatever's in front of us, we'll play that."

West Indies are next in action on Tuesday, when they play South Africa, while England must wait until Wednesday for a clash with Bangladesh.

England gained a measure of revenge by bowling sorry West Indies out for a paltry 55 as they thrashed the holders by six wickets in their first game of the T20 World Cup.

The Windies beat England in the 2016 World Cup final but humiliatingly crumbled to their second-lowest T20 International total in a totally one-sided Group 1 clash at the Dubai International Stadium on Saturday.

England had never beaten West Indies in their five previous T20 World Cup matches, however, they ended that record as the defending champions' embarrassing innings was over in 14.2 overs.

Adil Rashid claimed stunning best T20I figures of 4-2 after fellow spinner Moeen Ali (2-17) produced a magnificent opening spell.

Tymal Mills was also hugely impressive in his first T20I for his country since February 2017, taking 2-17 as England were flawless in the field, holding some excellent catches.

Chris Gayle (13) was the only Windies batter to reach double figures, with Chris Woakes and Chris Jordan claiming a wicket apiece.

Akeal Hosein claimed 2-24 as Kieron Pollard's side showed great character in the field after being blown away by the England bowlers, but Jos Buttler made an unbeaten 24 as England sealed an emphatic victory with 70 balls to spare.

A crushing win for Eoin Morgan's side put them top of the group, level on points with Australia.

 

Moeen sets the tone, Rashid puts Windies out of their misery

Eoin Morgan's decision to open the bowling with Moeen proved to be a masterstroke, as he removed Lendl Simmons and Shimron Hetmyer after taking a great catch for Woakes - picked with Mark Wood out due to an ankle injury - to see the back of Evin Lewis 

Moeen bowled 18 dot balls as he bowled four overs straight before Mills' pace and variety caused all sorts of problems. Rashid gave another demonstration that he is a world-class performer with the ball, claiming his four wickets off only 14 balls as the Windies folded.

Pitiful holders humbled

West Indies had no answer to the skill of the England bowlers as they posted the second-lowest T20I score by a member nation and the lowest by a Test-playing side.

While Morgan led England superbly with his clear thinking in the field, the Windies lost their heads with some poor shots and must regroup ahead of meeting with South Africa on Tuesday.

Virat Kohli says Hardik Pandya can make a big impact for India as a specialist batsman in the T20 World Cup as "you cannot create overnight" what the India all-rounder brings at number six.

Pandya continues to be troubled by a long-standing back injury but will be in the India side for their first match of the World Cup against fierce rivals Pakistan at the Dubai International Stadium on Sunday.

India captain Kohli is backing Pandya to deliver with the bat for the tournament favourites despite his lack of runs in the Indian Premier League.

Kohli said: "Honestly, I feel that Hardik presently with his physical condition is getting better in terms of being prepared to bowl at least two overs for us at a certain stage in this tournament.

"We strongly feel that we can make the most of the opportunity at hand until the time he starts bowling, we've considered a couple of other options to chip in for an over or two.

"So, we're not bothered about that at all. What he brings at that number six spot is something you cannot create overnight."

Pakistan have lost all five of their T20 World Cup matches against India - including the final in the inaugural edition of the tournament in 2007.

Yet Babar Azam's side are on an 11-match T20 winning streak in the United Arab Emirates and the skipper says they can get the better of their biggest rivals in their Super 12 Group 2 opener.

Babar said: "We have forgotten what happened in the past and we are trying to focus on the future. We want to use our ability and confidence on the day of the match so that we can get a better result.

"Records are meant to be broken. The matches between Pakistan and India are always full of intensity so we need to perform well in all three departments of the game.

"The boys are excited to play the World Cup and we have a crucial match on Sunday. A winning impact is necessary and then we will go match by match."

South Africa captain Temba Bavuma insisted there were positives to take from his team's opening defeat to Australia at the T20 World Cup.

The Proteas fell to a five-wicket defeat in the first match of the Super 12 in Abu Dhabi, marking a reversal in the two teams' fortunes in the shortest format.

Bavuma's men went into the tournament having won each of their last three T20I series for the loss of just two matches.

By contrast, Australia have tasted defeat in their last five series.

But Aaron Finch's side had little difficulty chasing down a target of 119 as South Africa were left to rue a disappointing batting performance.

A series of timely boundaries from Marcus Stoinis got Australia over the line, but Bavuma was at least pleased with the spirit his team displayed in taking the contest to the last over.

"We always talk about us being resilient and there was an opportunity," Bavuma said.

"Big effort from the guys to get us to the last over. We just didn't get enough with the bat and it was always going to be tough for the bowlers, and it was a good effort from them to get it to this stage.

"As much as it was a day that didn't go to plan, we can take positives. We showed fight. We spoke during the half-time that we won't give up."

South Africa will look to bounce back against West Indies on Tuesday.

Australia turned the formbook on its head to start the T20 World Cup Super 12 stage with a five-wicket victory over South Africa.

South Africa have lost just two matches across their three T20I series in 2021, while Australia have suffered defeat in each of their past five series.

But Australia's decision to put the Proteas in to bat proved an astute one, Josh Hazlewood (2-19) leading a seam attack that got plenty out of the pitch while spinner Adam Zampa took 2-21.

Aiden Markram (40) provided the most substantial contribution to South Africa's underwhelming 118-9 and it was he who set in motion an unexpected fightback that brought a tense finish.

Despite losing Aaron Finch (0) and David Warner (14) early, Australia looked to be cruising at 80-3, however, Markram's magnificent diving catch broke Steve Smith (35) and Glenn Maxwell's (18) partnership by removing the former.

Tabraiz Shamsi then bowled Maxwell for his 50th T20I wicket three balls later to give South Africa further hope, but timely boundaries from Marcus Stoinis (24 not out) got Australia over the line with two balls to spare and off the mark in Group 1.

 

West Indies captain Kieron Pollard is confident the team has done enough work to address concerns surrounding an inability to rotate the strike ahead of the start of the T20 World Cup.

The Caribbean side will open the tournament on Saturday against England but despite being defending champions will have several questions to answer.  One of those recurring issues has been the ratio of the team’s use of traditional hitting versus rotating the strike with singles.

In the past, the Windies have had success with their power-hitting game, winning the tournament twice in just such a fashion.  In recent years, however, the team has shown a propensity to get bogged down looking for boundaries.  Pollard, however, insists that the team has been looking to address the issue, but were at the same time not looking to get away from their style of play.

“A lot of work has been done behind the scenes.  The guys have worked tirelessly to get to where we are right now in terms of trying to cover our bases,” Pollard told members of the media on Friday.

“I’ve said before that we try to keep our strengths and work on our weaknesses.  We’ve accepted certain things and gone back behind the scenes and hopefully, we will see a difference,” he added.

“In terms of the two games that we played, guys didn’t show that intent and different things might have come out but we are confident that the guys have done what is needed and will look to hit the ground running come the first game.”

Gerhard Erasmus and David Wiese saw Namibia over the line in an historic eight-wicket win over Ireland that sent the African nation into the Super 12 stage of the T20 World Cup for the first time.

Set a target of 126 to win in Sharjah, Namibia ensured an automatic place at the next T20 World Cup in Australia with an emphatic victory and eliminated Ireland.

Captain Erasmus top-scored with 53 not out, while Wiese made 28 from 14 deliveries tot propelled the minnows, who only attained ODI status in 2019, through with nine balls to spare.

"It's a dream that's come true. These players were six and seven-year-old boys, dreaming of playing against teams like India and Pakistan. That dream has come true," Namibia coach Pierre de Bruyn said.

"All they had in the last few years was to watch these guys on TV and dream about it. They will wake up knowing it's real. I am just so pleased for them. I don't think people really know how limited we are. We are not a cricket organisation with a luxury of great resources."

Jan Frylinck took 3-21 and Wiese claimed 2-22 as Ireland collapsed from 94-2 to 125-8 after Paul Stirling had smashed 38 off 24 balls.

Namibia will be in Group 2 of the Super 12s along with India, New Zealand, Pakistan, Afghanistan and Scotland.

In Friday's other match, already-qualified Sri Lanka made light work of the Netherlands in an eight-wicket thrashing

Sri Lanka beat the Netherlands by nine wickets in their only previous T20I meeting, en route to winning the 2014 World Cup, and they skittled the European nation out for 44 in just 10 overs.

The Dutch had no answer to Lahiru Kumara (3-7) and Wanindu Hasaranga (3-9) and Maheesh Theekshana (2-3) before they cruised to victory in only 7.1 overs, Kusal Perera making 33 not out.

The Super 12s get under way on Saturday, with Australia facing South Africa and England taking on reigning champions West Indies.

Scotland are heading to the Super 12 stage of the T20 World Cup after swatting aside Oman to earn a crushing eight-wicket win in their final Group B game.

After limiting Oman to 122 all out, Scotland coasted to victory with three overs to spare. Captain Kyle Coetzer hit three sixes in a 28-ball innings of 41, with Matthew Cross (26no) and Richie Berrington (31no) seeing Scotland home at the Al Amerat Cricket Ground in Oman, denying their hosts a chance to compete at the highest level.

Berrington clubbed Khawar Ali for a pair of sixes in the 14th over to ease Scotland's nerves and take them into three figures, and the same batsman lashed a four and another maximum off consecutive balls from Mohammad Nadeem to seal a resounding success.

Bangladesh earlier also made sure of their place in the Super 12 round as they thrashed Papua New Guinea by 84 runs, making 181-7 before bowling out their opponents for 97.

Mahmudullah made 50 for Bangladesh, while Shakib Al Hasan weighed in with 46 before taking 4-9 with the ball. Papua New Guinea were reduced at one stage to 29-7, making a Bangladesh victory a formality.

Scotland go through as group winners with a 100 per cent record, having beaten Bangladesh earlier in the campaign, and will tackle India, Pakistan, New Zealand, Afghanistan and either Sri Lanka, Ireland or Namibia in Group Two as the elite sides enter the competition. Bangladesh must face Australia, England, South Africa, West Indies and the Group A winners, who are almost certain to be Sri Lanka.

The Super 12 group action gets under way on Saturday as Australia face South Africa in Abu Dhabi.

Sri Lanka are through to the T20 World Cup Super 12 after a dominant 70-run win over Ireland.

Wanindu Hasaranga's 47-ball 71, along with 61 from Pathum Nissanka, which came from the same amount of deliveries, propelled the 2014 winners to 171-7.

The 172 target proved well beyond Ireland, who were dismissed for 101 with nine balls left, Hasaranga also taking a wicket and bowling a team-high 14 dot balls in a Man of the Match display.

It means Sri Lanka can top Group A with a win over the Netherlands, whose hopes came to an end with defeat to Namibia.

Max O'Dowd hit a 56-ball 70 for Netherlands as they posted 164-4, however, David Wiese's unbeaten 66 ensured Namibia got over the line for a six-wicket win with six balls left.

England are among the tournament favourites and they underlined that status with a 13-run warm-up win over New Zealand in which Jos Buttler delivered a scarcely needed reminder of his class by hitting 11 fours and two maximums for his 73.

Mark Wood (4-23) and Adil Rashid (3-18) impressed with the ball for England, who were runners-up in 2016 to West Indies.

The Windies seemingly have work to do ahead of the Super 12 after a 56-run defeat to Afghanistan, who saw Hazratullah Zazai (56) and Mohammad Shahzad (54) hit half-centuries.

Rassie van der Dussen, meanwhile, looks in ominous form for South Africa, his 51-ball 101 comprising of 10 fours and four maximums as South Africa saw off Pakistan by six wickets.

Bangladesh avoided an early exit after their shock opening-day defeat by Scotland, beating Oman by 26 runs despite a late wobble.

The team ranked sixth in the world were bowled out by Oman for 153 from the final ball of their innings, recording just eight wickets for 52 runs in the last seven overs.

Bangladesh had started well, with Mohammad Naim managing 64 runs from 50 balls and Shakib Al Hasan registering 42 from 29, but the team crumbled after the latter's exit.

Oman were unable to capitalise, however, collapsing late on themselves with five wickets from five overs and ending on 127-9, having been 81-2.

The day's early game saw Scotland survive a scare of their own to earn their second victory of the tournament and move within one win of qualifying for the Super 12s stage.

Scotland beat Papua New Guinea by 17 runs, making 165-9 as Richie Berrington hit a half-century that included three sixes – one being the longest of the tournament at 97metres – as well as six fours.

However, the 14th-ranked side in the world fell apart after he and Callum McLeod exited in the 19th over, seeing three wickets fall from the final three balls.

Papua New Guinea were bowled out for 148 in the last over, though, falling to their second defeat of the competition after losing to Oman in their opening match.

Sri Lanka eased to a straightforward seven-wicket victory over Namibia in their opening match of the T20 World Cup on Monday.

Namibia were dismissed for just 96 runs after being put into bat first, and Sri Lanka ultimately eclipsed that total as early as the 14th over.

Maheesh Theekshana was a key part of the Sri Lanka attack, taking Stephan Baard on his first delivery, before also claiming the scalps of Zane Green and Jan Frylinck, ending the day at 3-25.

Craig Williams (29) was the only Namibian to get more than 20, though his haul was hardly emphatic given it came off 36 balls and included just two boundaries.

Sri Lanka's innings did not start particularly impressively given they were 26-3 after the first ball of the sixth over, but Avishka Fernando (30 not out) and Bhanuka Rajapaksa (42 not out) had a steadying impact as they got them over the line at 100-3.

The day's early Group A match saw Ireland win in similarly comprehensive fashion against the Netherlands, with the bowlers again having the decisive impact during a seven-wicket victory.

Curtis Campher (4-26) incredibly took all four of his wickets in succession to leave the Dutch in disarray, becoming only the third man after Lasith Malinga and Rashid Khan to achieve the feat in a T20I, while Mark Adair was even more efficient with figures of 3-9 in his four overs.

Like Campher, Adair's treble came in a row and right at the end as the Netherlands could only set a target of 106.

Paul Stirling (30 not out) kept things ticking over throughout with a professional – if unspectacular – knock, but Gareth Delany (44) top scored for the Irish. By the time he was eventually stopped by Pieter Seelaar's yorker, Ireland only needed another 12 runs.

Elsewhere, several of the tournament favourites were in action in warm-up matches. India beat England by seven wickets with six balls remaining partly down to swift 50s by KL Rahul and Ishan Kishan, while Australia's 159-7 saw them defeat New Zealand with one ball left.

South Africa enjoyed a comfortable 41-run win over Afghanistan and Pakistan defeated the West Indies by seven wickets in a little over 15 overs.

Chris Greaves produced an instrumental performance to help Scotland deal an early dent to Bangladesh's hopes of progressing to the T20 World Cup Super 12 with a shock win.

A Scotland victory appeared extremely unlikely when they were reduced to 53-6 having been put into bat in Muscat.

However, Greaves' 28-ball 45 helped Scotland rebuild their innings, as they reached 140-9, in an innings that saw Shakib Al Hasan become the leading wicket-taker in T20 internationals, with two dismissals taking him to 108.

And Greaves was similarly key with ball in hand, his 2-19 comprising the key wickets of Shakib and Mushfiqur Rahim.

Greaves broke up that duo's 47-run third-wicket partnership by removing Shakib for 20 and then benefited as Mushfiqur misjudged a scoop on 38 and lost his leg stump.

Brad Wheal (3-24) took a starring role from there, dismissing Nural Hasan (2) and Bangladesh captain Mahmudullah (23) in the space of four 19th-over deliveries.

Bangladesh were left needing 24 off the last over and that proved too steep a challenge as Scotland prevailed by six runs.

The day's earlier Group B game saw Oman cruise to a 10-wicket win over Papua New Guinea thanks in part to Jatinder Singh's 73.

West Indies captain Kieron Pollard insists the team is backing talismanic batsman Chris Gayle to do well at the T20 World Cup despite not heading into the event in the best of form.

Heading into the tournament, the swashbuckling left-hander is 97 runs away from scoring the most runs in T20 World Cup history.  Based on the player's most recent run of form, however, there is no guarantee of him getting there.  In the 16 games, the player has only managed 227 runs at an average of 17.46.

In addition, the 42-year-old has faced criticism from a vocal section of the West Indian cricket fanbase who are adamant that he should have stepped aside for younger talent.  Gayle was recently involved in a war of words with bowling legend Sir Curtly Ambrose, who suggested that while the player was still capable of lighting up bowling attacks on his day, he was not at the same level as he was a few years ago.  For Pollard, however, the batsman has been and continues to be a very valuable asset to the team.

“Again, no words to describe what he has done for us in World Cups, in the T20 World Cups, and T20 cricket around the world as an individual," Pollard said during an interview with team captains' on Saturday in Dubai.

"For him, 97 runs away, but I don't think he will be looking at that. I think the main goal for us and him, is trying to win a World Cup and defend the title. He is looking forward to that. Hopefully, he can come and deliver for us. We back him to do well," he added.

 

West Indies fast bowler Ravi Rampaul is confident the experience of senior members of the team will be crucial in its effort to retain the ICC World Cup.

The 37-year old’s call up to the squad has been among the most controversial made by the Caribbean team, with some fans insisting the West Indies should have focused on selecting younger talent.  Rampaul’s effective showing the Caribbean Premier League (CPL), however, convinced selectors that he could be an asset for a team looking to successfully defend its title.

In 10 matches, Rampaul was the tournament’s leading scorer with 19 wickets at an economy rate of 7.96 and a best of 4 for 29.  The bowler is satisfied that the work put in merited selection to the team’s T20 World Cup squad.

“In every team, you want to play for, you have to put a performance out there and I know I needed to work hard and show the selectors I could still take wickets and compete at a level.  I needed to put the performance out there and show them I could take wickets at the CPL stage,” Rampaul told members of the media on Saturday.

Despite the criticism aimed towards the age of some members of the squad, Rampaul believes the experience of the team will be critical in the bid to retain the trophy.

“Going into big World Cup games you need experience and the team that was selected is a lot of experienced guys and a lot of young guys as well, guys that play around the world in different conditions.  We know games come quick and fast and the experienced guys will know how to manage themselves.”

The West Indies will bow into action with a match against England on October 23rd.

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