Suranga Lakmal ripped through Zimbabwe's top order Thursday as Sri Lanka overwhelmed the host to win the first test by 10 wickets on the final day.
With Zimbabwe needing to bat solidly in its second innings to have a chance at a draw in its first test in more than a year, Lakmal removed Prince Masvaure (17), Brian Mudzinganyama (16) and Craig Ervine (7) before lunch and then Brendan Taylor in the second session.
Zimbabwe needed 127 runs on the last day to make Sri Lanka bat again, but Lakmal was well-supported by fellow pacer Lahiru Kumara (3-32), spinner Lasith Embuldeniya (2-74) and seamer Kasun Rajitha (1-23).
Both Lakmal and Embuldeniya finished the test with seven-wicket hauls while Kumara totaled five.
Zimbabwe was eventually skittled out for 170 leaving Sri Lanka the simple task of getting just 14 runs to win.
Openers Oshada Fernando (4) and captain Dimuth Karunaratne (10) then eased Sri Lanka to victory ahead of the second match starting next Monday.
"I'm going to be totally honest, I thought it was an average wicket," said Sri Lanka coach Mickey Arthur. "It didn't encourage quick bowling, it didn't encourage spin. It was tough to score. It was easy to stay, but when you tried to accelerate, that's when you got yourself into trouble."
Man-of-the-match Angelo Mathews was the bedrock of Sri Lanka's first innings with a maiden double century on day four on Wednesday. The 32-year-old former captain faced 468 balls for his undefeated 200 in a knock in which he frustrated Zimbabwe's bowling unit for large parts with solid defense and audacious stroke-play.
A key partnership in Sri Lanka's first innings was the 136-run for the sixth wicket between Mathews and wicketkeeper Niroshan Dickwella (63).
Debutant pacer Victor Nyauchi was the pick of the bowlers for Zimbabwe with figures of 3-69.
"There are a lot of youngsters that were put in this game and I'm really happy that they've raised their hands up, they've performed," Zimbabwe's coach Lalchand Rajput commented. "I wouldn't say they've performed exceptionally. But yes, they've performed to their potential and I'm sure many more will come."
Pakistan captain Babar Azam knows very well that only a clean sweep against Bangladesh can help his country retain the No. 1 ranking in Twenty20s when they meet in the first of the three-match series on Friday.
"When you think that you have to retain the No. 1 spot, every match is do or die for us," Babar said Thursday. "We have planned accordingly, we have talked to the players that they should give 110% to retain this No. 1 ranking."
Pakistan has been at the top of rankings since January 2018 with 270 points despite winning only one out of nine completed T20s last year. A 3-0 rout at the hands of second-string Sri Lanka — also in Lahore late last year — saw Babar take over the captaincy from Sarfaraz Ahmed. But Babar, the No. 1-ranked batsman in T20s, struggled in his debut series as captain when Australia beat Pakistan 2-0.
Pakistan will lose its No. 1 ranking if it doesn't beat Bangladesh 3-0. Even a 2-1 victory will see Australia pushing Pakistan to second.
Chief selector Misbah-ul-Haq, who is also the head coach, has recalled ageing allrounders Shoaib Malik and Mohammad Hafeez after Babar suggested that he needed the experience of both players.
Hafeez has been out of the T20 team since playing his last match in November 2018, while Malik, who has played 111 T20s, hasn't played in the shortest format for Pakistan for almost one year.
"They are senior players and their presence in the team will help me," Babar said.
Pakistan dropped experienced bowlers Mohammad Amir and Wahab Riaz and brought in uncapped pace sensation Haris Rauf, who took 16 wickets in the Big Bash League in Australia. Shaheen Afridi, with 14 wickets in T20s, is the most experienced pace bowler. There are also two other young fast bowlers, Mohammad Hasnain and Mohammad Musa.
The tour was only finalized last week when Bangladesh agreed to split the Twenty20 series and the two ICC World Test Championship matches in three phases after the national cricket boards reached consensus in Dubai in a meeting facilitated by International Cricket Council chairman Shashank Manohar.
Bangladesh will return for the first test in Rawalpindi from Feb. 7-11. After a break of almost two months, Bangladesh will play an ODI and the second test in Karachi on April 3-9.
Late last year, Sri Lanka also split its tour to Pakistan in two phases when it played a Twenty20 series in Lahore and then returned in December for two test matches in Rawalpindi and Karachi.
Bangladesh's experienced wicketkeeper-batsman, Mushfiqur Rahim, is the only notable absentee from the tour after he pulled out of both Twenty20s and the two test matches because of security concerns. But captain Mahmudullah said is focused on playing.
"We left it (security concerns) when we boarded the plane," Mahmudullah said. "We are just thinking about playing good cricket in Pakistan, it's good to be back here and we are looking forward to a good show here."
Mahmudullah said he doesn't believe in the rankings and hoped all his players are in good form after competing in the recent Bangladesh Premier League.
"If you think about those ratings, probably it might affect your game so we're not thinking about those things," Mahmudullah said. "We know that Pakistan is a very good strong team ... but if you see our T20 performance graph, it's been going good for the last few series."
Bangladesh recalled experienced opening batsman Tamim Iqbal and also has the bowling experience of Mustafizur Rahim and Robel Hossain to combat Pakistan's strong batting line up.
"It's a mix of youth and experience players," Mahmudullah said. "We need to think about our games individually and team-wise so that we can perform really well."
A brilliant hat-trick from forward Nshimirimana Jospin sent Burundi in the final of the ongoing six-team Bangabandhu International Gold Cup Football Tournament as they routed hosts Bangladesh by 3-0 goals in the second semifinal at the Bangabandhu National Stadium here on Thursday.
Burundi will play against Palestine in the final match on January 25 at 4 pm at the same venue. Palestine confirmed their spot for the final after a hard-fought 1-0 win over Seychelles in the first semifinal.
Jospin scored twice just few minutes before the half-time and made his second hat-trick of the ongoing meet scoring third goal in the second half.
The 18-year-old forward scored the opener with a smart tap-in shot from goal mouth melee while defender Rayhan failed to intercept a cross from defender Ngabonziza Blanchard in the 43rd minute (1-0) and doubled the margin with an eye-catching header, off the second successful cross from Blanchard in the stoppage time (46th minute) (2-0).
He netted the third goal and sealed the fate for his side with a left-footer angular shot inside the box in the 79th minute (3-0).
Jospin scored his and the tournament’s first hat-trick scoring three goals against Mauritius in the first group match. He also scored one against Seychelles in the second and last group match. With the feat, the young East African forward reached the summit of the scorer list in the ongoing meet.
The home side made two changes -- Captain Jamal Bhuiyan returned in the squad while defender Rayhan Hasan replaced defender Topu Barman who was suspended conceded a red card (two yellow cards) in the last match against Sri Lanka. Burundi made one change – forward Ciza Thierry came in the place of midfielder Musaga Henry.
Bangladesh got a blow while their forward Motin Miah, who netted a brace against Sri Lanka in the last match, left the field with an injury just few minutes after the starting of the game. Forward Mahbubur Rahman Sufil took his charges.
Bangladesh got a close chance in the 8th but forward Mohammad Ibrahim failed to bury the ball while substitute forward Sufil sent the ball to him inside the box.
After conceding two goals, the hosts came alive and started to play pressing football in the second half. But forward Saad Uddin, defender Riyadul Hasan Rafi and veteran midfielder Mamunul Islam Mamun wasted all the chances.
Sufil missed a chance while his glancing header from the goal mouth melee went on edging the far post while SaadUddin sent the ball to him with a cut-back pass and two long-range shots by Captain Jamal Bhuiyan from nearer the box were smartly denied by Burundi Goalkeeper NdizeyeFales.
Burundi defender Hitimana Hamza and midfielder Nkurunziza Yannick got one yellow card each while Bangladesh’s Mahbubur Rahman Sufil got one.
Bangladesh: Ashraful Islam Rana (GK), Rayhan Hasan, Rahmat Mia, MotinMiah (Mahbubur Rahman Sufil), Saad Uddin, Sohel Rana, Mohammad Ibrahim, Jamal Bhuiyan, Manik Hossain Mollah (Mamunul Islam Mamun), Riyadul Hasan Rafi, Bishwanath Ghosh.
Burundi: Ndizeye Fales (GK), Ngabonziza Blanchard, Gasongo Benjamin (Brandon Chebby), Tambwe Amissi (C), Ndikumana Asman, Nkurunziza Yannick, Masudi Narcisse, Nshimirimana Jospin, Hitimana Hamza, Ndikumana Merci.
Many things were happening about Bangladesh-Pakistan series in the soil of Pakistan. But now, keeping everything aside, the cricket is finally set to take the field when the Tigers will face off the hosts on Friday in the first T20 of the three-match series in Lahore.
The match will start at 3pm (Bangladesh time) at the Gaddafi Stadium in Lahore. The official broadcast partner of Bangladesh Cricket Board (BCB), Gtv, will telecast the game live in Bangladesh. At the same time, the match will be live on YouTube through an official channel.
Before this series, Bangladesh and Pakistan faced each other in 10 T20 Internationals, in which, Pakistan won eight and Bangladesh managed to win the other two.
In the pre-series press conference, Bangladesh captain Mahmudullah Riyad told the media that they are eager to play cricket and forget the other things that were talked much. Tigers have to stay in Pakistan in a tight-secured environment which is not usual for them. Mahmudullah said that this will not impact their game.
“We are concentrating only on our game. We have nothing to worry about the security arrangement or anything like that. We understand that Pakistan is a big force in T20 Internationals. Despite that, we upbeat to offer a strong show in the field,” Mahmudullah told the media in the pre-series press conference at the venue.
Bangladesh are going to miss the service of two veterans Shakib Al Hasan and Mushfiqur Rahim. While Shakib is out of action due to a two-year ban imposed by the ICC, Mushfiqur skipped the Pakistan series due to the concern of his family about security. Mahmudullah reckons it will be tough for Bangladesh to come up with the replacements of the duo. But he said the young guys who made it to the national squad are capable enough to deliver good performances.
“Yes, they are not here. But (we are not worried, because of) the young players who have proved their worth in the just-concluded Bangabandhu BPL. They are keen to bring their strong show at the international level as well. If you talk about the experience, we have Tamim (Iqbal), Shafiul (Islam), Al-Amin (Hossain), Soumya (Sarkar) and Mustafizur (Rahman) who have been playing together for a long time. So we are not worried about who are not here. Instead, we are looking forward to performing well in the field,” Bangladesh captain added.
Bangladesh head coach Russell Domingo earlier said that this series will be the start of his preparation to sort out the squad for the T20 World Cup this year which will take place in Australia. Mahmudullah echoed his coach in the pre-series media interaction.
“It’s a big opportunity for us to sort out our team ahead of the T20 World Cup. We have to make habit to win the T20 matches. At the same time, it’s a big chance for all of us to win a series in Pakistan,” Mahmudullah told the media.
Wahab Riaz and Mohammad Amir could have been the big threats if they were in the Pakistan squad. However, Mahmudullah said they are not heeding much on the opposition. Instead, they are thinking to execute their plan in the field.
Bangladesh team reached Lahore at 10:30pm (Local time) on January 22. Tigers went to Pakistan through a chartered flight of Biman Bangladesh Airlines since there is no direct flight to Pakistan from Bangladesh.
After reaching there, Tigers were welcomed by the government and Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) officials. Mahmudullah and his team are staying at Pearl-Continental Hotels.
While the first match of the series will take place on Friday, the next two games will be played on January 25 and 27 at the same venue. After that, Tigers will back home and return to Pakistan two times more to play two Tests and one ODI.
While Bangladesh national team will take on Pakistan in Lahore in the first match of three-match T20 series, the Under-19 teams of the respective countries will face off at Senwes Park, Potchefstroom, in the last Group C match of the ongoing ICC Under-19 World Cup.
Both of Bangladesh and Pakistan have played two matches each and won to ensure the super-league stage. Now, both countries will take the field aiming the slot of the group champions.
In the first game of the event, Bangladesh beat Zimbabwe by nine wickets. In the next game, they outplay Scotland by seven wickets.
On the other hand, Pakistan beat Scotland in their first game before winning the second against Zimbabwe.
Bangladesh advanced to the next phase of the event with the win of Pakistan against Zimbabwe, which confirmed that no team would be able to surpass them and Bangladesh in terms of getting more points from this group.