All-round Bangladesh trump Sri Lanka, enter Asia Cup final

After beating world champions India, Bangladesh accounted for yet another big gun.

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Bangladeshi players celebrate after defeating Sri Lanka by five wickets at Dhaka. (AFP/Getty Images)


An all-round effort with the bat, ball and in the field helped Bangladesh continue their giant-killing run and defeat Sri Lanka by five wickets in a rain-affected match at Dhaka today to seal their spot in the final of the Asia Cup.

In a must-win match for them, Bangladesh bowled Sri Lanka out for 232 and then chased down the revised target of 212 in 40 overs with five wickets and 17 balls to spare. A lengthy rain delay after Sri Lanka's innings resulted in the truncated match, but Bangladesh held their nerve despite stumbling in the chase to earn a well-deserved win.

Bangladesh had a disastrous start to the run chase when they were slipped to 40 for 3 in 7.1 overs with Nuwan Kulasekara accounting for Nazimudding and captain Mushfiqur Rahim; and Suranga Lakmal had Jahurul Islam caught by Chamara Kapugedera at midwicket.

The in-form duo of Tamim Iqbal and Shakib Al Hasan got Bangladesh's chase back on course with their 76-run partnership in 12.1 overs for the fourth wicket to put the pressure back on Sri Lanka as the pair kept the scoreboard ticking over by rotating the strike and also hitting boundaries at regular intervals. None of the Sri Lankan bowlers made any impact on Tamim and Shakib as they adopted a low-risk but effective approach in their partnership.

Tamim, who was surprisingly left out of Bangladesh's original squad for the tournament before being reinstated, got to his half-century from only 46 balls; with Shakib continuing his brilliant form with the bat scoring his 50 from 43 deliveries. Tamim, who scored a 57-ball 59 had 28 dots, 19 singles, a couple of twos and nine boundaries in his innings; while Man-of-the-Match Shakib (56 from 46 deliveries) had 19 dots, 14 singles, four twos, two threes and seven boundaries to his name - this is as close as it gets to a
perfect partnership in ODIs.

Off-spinner Sachithra Senanayake dismissed both the set batsmen in quick succession to put the pressure back on Bangladesh with the hosts 135 for 5 in the 24th over. Senanayake dropped Tamim off his own bowling when the Bangladeshi opening batsman was on 51, but made amends soon after when he had the southpaw caught by Lahiru Thirimanne at point; before finally winning the battle against Shakib by trapping him plumb in front.

But, Nasir Hossain (36*) and Mahmudullah, who remained not out on 32 from 33 deliveries shared an unbroken partnership of 77 runs in 83 deliveries to ensure Bangladesh wouldn't be denied their just rewards. 

Shakib Al Hasan (L) celebrates after dismissing Sri Lanka's Nuwan Kulasekara. (AFP/Getty Images)Earlier, medium-fast bowler Nazmul Hossain gave Bangladesh the perfect start when he struck thrice in his first spell as Mahela Jayawardene's team were reduced to 32 for 3 inside 10 overs.

Hossain, playing his first match of the tournament as replacement for the injured Shafiul Islam clean bowled Jayawardene and then had Kumar Sangakkara caught by Nazimuddin at extra cover before he got Tillakaratne Dilshan (19) to play on to his stumps as Sri Lanka was rocked by these three early blows.

Kapugedera and Thirimanne then got Sri Lanka's innings back on track with their 88-run partnership for the fourth wicket, but the pair took 22.4 overs to get those runs as Bangladesh's bowlers made the batsmen work hard to keep the scoreboard ticking over with their tight bowling and they were ably backed by their fielders. Thirimanne hit only three boundaries in his 73-ball 48 before he was stumped off the bowling of Abdul Razzak as the ball rolled on to the wickets after hitting wicket-keeper Rahim's pad. The left-handed Thirimanne's innings included 38 dot balls, 28 singles, four twos and the three boundaries.

Kapugedera, who scored 62 from 92 balls (49 dots), hit just four boundaries in his knock; and was most troubled by Mashrafe Mortaza, Nazmul Hossain and Razzak's bowling - he managed to score only 26 runs from the 52 deliveries bowled to him by the trio. Kapugedera added 49 runs for the fifth wicket with Upul Tharanga before Shakib took a low catch at extra cover to dismiss him off Razzak's bowling with the Sri Lankan score at 169 in the 40th over.

Sri Lanka were unable to accelerate in the final 10 overs of their innings as they continued to lose wickets at regular intervals with only Tharanga (48 from 44 balls) making any significant contribution among the lower middle-order batsmen. Nazmul Hossain (3-32) was the most successful of Bangladesh's bowlers, while the spin duo of Razzak and Shakib took two wickets each.

Bangladesh lost their first match in the tournament to Pakistan by 21 runs, but then bounced back strongly as they beat world champions India by five wickets chasing a target of 290 before adding the scalp of Sri Lanka, the World Cup runners-up.

India also had two wins in the tournament, but lost out to Bangladesh for a spot in the final because of the head-to-head record; while Sri Lanka had a tournament to forget losing all their three matches. One also has to feel for Virat Kohli, who saw yet another brilliant century go in vain.

Bangladesh and Pakistan will face-off in the final of the Asia Cup at the same venue on Thursday in a day-night match.

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