Mathews keeps Bangladesh winless

Angelo Mathews

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 205 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.

The 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.

Ashan Priyanjan and Thirimanne promised a sustained resurgence, as they became accustomed to the pace of the pitch, but a Mushfiqur hunch brought another wicket: Ziaur Rahman, who had bowled only 12 overs in the series, drew an outside edge from Priyanjan in the 15th, before Thirimanne departed eight overs later, as Rubel Hossain sprinted around from long-on to take a catch in front of the sightscreen.

At 75 for 5, Mathews and de Silva joined to provide the definitive partnership in the match. Like Mathews, de Silva began sedately, but soon was matching his captain shot for shot, showcasing particular ease against spin, as he mined gaps square of the wicket, and found the fence when the bowlers missed their lengths. Their march was measured and efficient, with 82 runs off 98 balls, but it was not without incident; Mathews edged just wide of the keeper on 21, and de Silva had two leading edges fall short of fielders. Mushfiqur was perhaps also guilty of allowing the match to meander. Too many of Sri Lanka’s runs were achieved without risk.

Sri Lanka’s decision to rest Lasith Malinga had eased the Bangladesh openers’ task, but the hosts had begun cautiously nonetheless, seeking the same security at the top of the innings that had been the foundation for their plunder in their last match. Suranga Lakmal extracted away-swing and Thisara was accurate, but neither was a significant menace to batsmen intent largely on seeing them out. Anamul progressed largely in singles, but Shamsur was more reliant on boundaries. When the spinners arrived, he smote Sachithra Senanayake through the covers off consecutive balls. But the spurt would not last long.

Mahmudullah and Nasir Hossain kept the hosts afloat with a 55-run stand after the collapse, but when their expansive attempts were repeatedly thwarted by the slowness of the surface, they settled for the singles Sri Lanka were content to offer them. The batting Powerplay brought only 18 runs, and though they had set themselves for a dash in the last 10 overs, both batsmen were dismissed by Lakmal for 30.

Malinga was barely missed at the death as Lakmal provided the yorker-length balls. His penultimate over went for only two runs, and there were no boundaries off the bat between the 44th and 49th overs. Thisara knocked two men over after Ziaur Rahman broke that drought to lift the hosts beyond 200.

(ESPN CricInfo)