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Angelo Mathews leads Sri Lanka’s victory against determined Bangladesh in Asia Cup 2014

Sri Lanka conceded too many wickets at the start to make 205 look like a huge target. It was Angelo mathews who stayed calm and shepherded the chase © AFP
Sri Lanka conceded too many wickets at the start to make 205 look like a huge target. It was Angelo mathews who stayed calm and shepherded the chase © AFP

By Abhijit Banare

Mar 6, 2014

In  what was a dead rubber, Bangladesh almost pulled of a win with a determined effort defending a modest target of 204 against Sri Lanka in the last league match of the Asia Cup 2014. The Sri Lankans were complacent, stumbled and eventually scampered home with an unbeaten 74 from skipper Angelo Mathews to earn a three-wicket win.

It was a consolation match where the Lankans were eager to take some confidence into the finals, whereas Bangladesh had to prove to their emotional fans that they are better than Afghanistan at least from the points table perspective. It was the record sixth wicket partnership for Sri Lanka against Bangladesh

In their last three games, Bangladesh had done well to keep the momentum on their side but as the game progressed they faltered and waited for the game to take its course thereby losing their way. In this match they did well to keep the pressure on Sri Lanka right through. Sri Lanka inflicted some damage at the start for themselves with Kusal Perera going for a reckless pull on second ball and was out caught behind for a duck. Nothing could stop the celebrations when Nasir Hossain fumbled and then caught a sharp catch in the slips to send back Kumar Sangakkara for just two.

And when the form isn’t on your side, things go wrong on many counts. And on this occasion, it took a bizarre decision for Thirimanne to send back non-striker Mahela Jayawardene after calling for a tight single. Jayawardene was too far down the track to make it back in time. Rubel Hossain did well to collect the throw from the fielder and knock off the stumps. The celebrations indicated what it meant to remove Sangakkara and Jayawardene in quick succession.

At eight for three, Sri Lanka shifted quickly to the cautious zone but didn’t look like they had panicked. Lahiru Thirimanne and Ashan Priyanjan steadied the innings before Anamul continued his good work behind the wickets with a brilliant take diving to his right. Priyanjan scored a 38-ball 24 but the target was too far away at four for 47. Bangladesh could have easily lost the control if they had waited for things to happen. They kept the pressure on with Ziaur Rahman showing great endurance to bowl 10 overs on the trot giving away just 34 runs and picking the wicket of Priyanjan. Thirimanne had a brain freeze situation as he went for an uncalled for aggressive shot and was caught with a good effort in the deep by Rubel.

Chaturanga de Silva and Angelo Mathews applied some sanity in the chase where they were not at all shaken by the required rate. Mushfiqur made the right bowling changes and kept the batsmen guessing. Chauranga was dismissed by Mahmudullah for 44. The partnership put them in a comfortable position.

Mathews was still busy taking some tight singles with Thisara Perera before the latter was run-out.Mathews kept his calm and shepherded the chase remaining unbeaten.

With a over a week to go for the World T20, Bangladesh are well aware that they once again  have to shoulder the burden of expectations. Somehow their performance in this tournament has hanged between covering the gap between potential and expectations. After a strong start with the bat against India and then against Pakistan, they came apart against Afghanistan and Sri Lanka.

Today, they just didn’t make much effort to read Ajantha Mendis and other spinners playing casually and giving their wickets away. Only Anamul Haque looked settled till he was dismissed for 49 with a brilliant catch by Thirimanne.

The spinners strangled them and eventually restricted them to a below par score. Another tough day for the Bangladesh fans who had come looking for that elusive win. On a statistical note, this was Bangladesh’s 200th ODI loss. Sri Lanka remain unbeaten in this tournament and take on Pakistan in the final on Saturday.

Brief scores

Bangladesh 204 for 9 in 50 overs (Anamul Haque 49, Shamsur Rahman 39, Mahmudullah 30, Nair Hossain 30; Ashan Priyanjan 2 for 11, Thisara Perera 2 for 29) lost to Sri Lanka 208 for 7 in 49 overs (Angelo Mathews 74*, Chaturanga de Silval 44; Ziaur Rahman 1 for 34) by 3 wickets.

Man of the Match: Angelo Mathews

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(Abhijit Banare is a reporter at CricketCountry. He is an avid quizzer and loves to analyse and dig out interesting facts which allows him to learn something new every day. Apart from cricket he also likes to keep a sharp eye on Indian politics, and can be followed on Twitter and blog)

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