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Najmul Hossain steers Bangladesh to series-equalling win over Sri Lanka

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SYLHET: Skipper Najmul Hossain led Bangladesh from the front with an unbeaten 53 for an emphatic eight-wicket win against Sri Lanka to level the three-match T20I series 1-1 on Wednesday.

Liton Das (36) and Towhid Hridoy (32 not out) provided him good support, helping Bangladesh race to 170-2 in 18.1 overs after their bowlers had restricted Sri Lanka to 165-5 electing to bowl first.

Liton and Soumya Sarkar (26) set up the win with a 68-run opening stand before Matheesha Pathirana dismissed both to give Sri Lanka a glimmer of hope.

The visitors felt aggrieved when Soumya was declared out, caught behind off Binura Fernando for 14 before the third umpire overturned the decision.

The replay showed a clear spike on the bat, but the umpire reckoned it came after the ball passed the bat, leaving Sri Lankan fielders thunderstruck.

Pathirana lifted their mood with strikes in successive overs, but Najmul and Towhid put in 87 runs for the third wicket to deny them further success.

Najmul completed the win with a six off Dasun Shanaka, which also brought his fourth T20I fifty.

Najmul credited his bowlers for restricting Sri Lanka to a gettable score.

“All credit to the boys, especially to our bowlers, really happy with the way we bowled,” he said.

Sri Lanka, who won Monday’s opening match by three runs, saw stop-start batting as several batsmen got starts but none could make it big.

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Kamindu Mendis scored the highest with 37 off 27 balls, while Kusal Mendis chipped in with 36 off 22 balls.

Kamindu and Kusal put on 66 runs for the second wicket after a slow start to give Sri Lanka a platform for a big score.

Soumya dismissed Kusal to break the partnership to halt Sri Lanka’s progress.

Meanwhile, Kamindu was run out after hitting three fours and two sixes in a 27-ball innings.

Stand-in skipper Charith Asalanka hit 28 off 14 balls, with three sixes and a four.

“We were 20-25 runs short… as batsmen, we have to make runs in these conditions, it’s hard for bowlers in these conditions,” Asalanka said after the match.

Mahedi bowled Asalanka before he inflicted too much damage on the home side.

However, Angelo Mathews and Shanaka ensured Sri Lanka did not lose their way completely.

The pair added 53 runs for the sixth wicket, with Mathews leading their way with 32 not out. Shanaka, Sri Lanka’s bowling hero in the opening match, was unbeaten on 20.

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