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Asia Cup 2014 – SL vs Ban: Mathews Keeps Bangladesh Winless

By on March 6, 2014

Sri Lanka 208 for 7 (Mathews 74*, Al-Amin 2-42) beat Bangladesh 204 for 9 (Anamul 49, Priyanjan 2-11, Thisara 2-29) by three wickets…

Sri Lanka’s spinners effected a mid-innings trauma and Bangadesh returned the favour, before Angelo Mathews’ collected 74 not out overcame a collapse and sealed victory. The hosts’ bowlers made a game of the dead rubber, carving through Sri Lanka’s in-form top order early in the chase, but a target of 210 had always seemed insufficient, even on a worn pitch. Bangladesh’s lack of ambition both with the bat and in the field perhaps ceded crucial moments to the opposition, who strode home by three wickets, and one over remaining to extended their unbeaten run in the country.

Asia Cup 2014 - SL vs Ban: Angelo MathewsThe Bangladesh openers had made 74 before Ajantha Mendis made the incision that began a top-order haemorrhage – five wickets for 45 runs. Mendis befuddled Shamsur Rahman with an offbreak, hitting him on the pads with a ball that would have clipped leg stump, before sneaking one under Mominul Haque’s bat four balls later.

Mushfiqur Rahim attempted an injudicious scoop off Chaturanga de Silva three overs later, and was also trapped in front, before part-time offspinner Ashan Priyanjan struck twice in his three overs. Perhaps eager to complete his second consecutive half-century, Anamul Haque advanced to Priyanjan’s first ball, but chipped it to Lahiru Thirimanne at midwicket, who snaffled the chance in a diving second attempt. Shakib Al Hasan sought to spur a now-flagging run rate, but in the 34th over, an inside edge off an attempted shot through cover carried to short midwicket. His demise left the team at 119 for 5. They would never really recover.

That Sri Lanka’s innings was not similarly derailed was thanks to Mathews’ increasing appetite for finishing matches, allied with a sharpening cricketing wit. Sri Lanka never faced a tall required rate, so he shelved his familiar belligerence and forged an innings of restraint. He struck at 71 and only played three violent strokes in the innings – an advancing six over long off and two heaves through midwicket, one of which brought the winning runs. Bangladesh made a late surge, dismissing Chaturanga de Silva and Thisara Perera when Sri Lanka were in sight of victory, but Mathews did not allow losses to rattle him.

Sri Lanka’s collapse had occurred at the outset. Kusal Perera swiped at an Al-Amin Hossain short ball, sending a thin edge to the keeper, before Kumar Sangakkara was handed his first failure of the tournament, nicking to slip as he cover drove. With plenty of overs remaining to achieve the modest target, Mahela Jayawardene may have hoped to bat himself into touch, but he was thwarted by his partner before he had made a run. Lahiru Thirimanne called him through for a single, then sent him back, after Jayawardene had traveled most of the distance to the other end. He was short by a distance, leaving Sri Lanka at 8 for 3.

Andrew Fidel Fernando is ESPNcricinfo‘s Sri Lanka correspondent.

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