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Snapshots: From Kusals' day out to Mushfiqur's fist pumps

Mushfiqur Rahim held back his celebrations until the winning runs were stroked.
Mushfiqur Rahim held back his celebrations until the winning runs were stroked. © AFP
Secret to Sri Lankan groundsmen's success still under covers
Sri Lanka's groundsmen are unarguably the most efficient in the world. Given the country can invite squalls of rain, they have no other choice but to be very good at what they do. The weather forecast for6 PM in Colombo on Saturday was for 40 percent rain, with the city having already received a shower earlier in the afternoon. Just as the teams were finishing their practice drills, the groundsmen started making rapid progress and covered the whole square. Soon enough, the entire infield was under covers. It was a mizzle at best, but to see the groundsmen in action was pure delight. Nothing less than a Bollywood song shot in rain, every step matched, every move in sync, and all that without exchanging a glance. Nobody ran for shelter barring one Mr. Brett Lee on television duties. Give him the ball and he would fancy running in to make the most of the heavy conditions, but today, he was happy just save his shirt from getting wet.
Why Rubel, why?
Kusal Mendis had just miscued a Rubel Hossain delivery to fine leg for a single, in the third over. Just as Mendis was running across for a quick run, Rubel had a few words to offer. After completing the run, Mendis charged towards the Bangladesh pacer and retaliated. The RPS crowd chose that moment to clear its collective throat. What followed next was carnage. The first ball that Mendis faced after the duel was tonked for a six. In the next few overs that he was in the middle, he connected three more sixes and a four, to take his tally of sixes to five. The hosts managed to stack up 70 in the powerplay period. Mendis had already gotten off to a breezy start and post the altercation, he just turned the beast mode on.
Kusals' Day Out
Kusal Mendis was called in as replacement for Perera for the Bangladesh T20Is and in a bid to counter the spin challenge, he was pushed to the top of the order. His returns from those two contests were 53 off 27 and 70 off 42 balls respectively. When Perera had recovered sufficiently from a side strain, the prospect of seeing the duo bat together caught everyone's imagination. Today when Perera came in, Mendis had already struck 26 off just 10 deliveries. Perera doesn't like lagging behind and while Mendis had added only one more six in the next five overs, he had sent three fours and a six in that period. When Mendis fell for a scorching 30-ball 57, Perera had gotten quite close with 46 off 31 himself. The duo added 85 for the second wicket while hitting six fours and four sixes during that stay. Sri Lanka would believe that this is just a sign of things to come, and for them to come out of their never-ending transition, this is one pair that can pull them out of the rut.
Tharanga's journey from the top of the order to bottom?
Upul Tharanga isn't new to moving up and down the batting order, be it in ODIs or now in T20Is. Having opened the innings in 18 out of the 24 T20Is he has played, this was only the third instance of the southpaw batting in the lower order. He came in at a time when the hosts had lost three wickets in a space of 14 runs and two overs, but the need of the hour was to go big. Tharanga pulled the momentum back in the 17th over when he hit Rubel Hossain for two fours and a six in one over. Following that, the hosts went on a hitting spree again, collecting 40 off the last three overs. Looking back, that Rubel over where Tharanga stepped on the gas, made a massive difference to Sri Lanka's final score.
When Liton forced Sri Lanka into two mini-conferences
There had to be some extraordinary changes in the lineup for Bangladesh to discover some magic in what had otherwise been a never ending stretch of sloppy batting. When Liton Das came out to open the innings with Tamim, it looked more a desperate move to make things work, although Soumya Sarkar had been doing well as an opener. However, Liton quashed all doubts when he walloped an Akila Dananjaya delivery deep into the mid-wicket stands off just the fourth ball. He hit four more sixes off the next three overs to go with just one more four. By the time, he left the crease, he had given Bangladesh the power they needed in their play.
During this mayhem, he also forced the Sri Lankan team into two mini-conferences.
Mushfiqur's celebrations
Mushfiqur Rahim has been a culprit of jumping the gun once in the past, a game that haunts him till date. But on Saturday, he was clued in to the job at hand right from the moment he walked out to bat. He stepped out to the bowler once to slap a six over point, he scooped the next for four off Dasun Shanaka. He spared none on his way to a 24-ball fifty. But the script was scary as he was batting with Mahmudullah, the same partner as in that fateful World T20 clash in Bangalore. Mahmudullah picked a fielder in the same region and the Bangladeshi hearts sank once more fearing the worst.
This time, though, Mushfiqur waited to cross the finish line and once the winning runs came off his bat, he started throwing punches in the air. The rest of the team invaded the field as Bangladesh finally conquered an inner demon.

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