Sri Lanka storm into tri-series final

Sri Lanka

Sri Lanka headed into this contest with the knowledge that defeat would spell the end of their ODI tri-series campaign. 

After one victory and two defeats so far in the tournament – which also features Zimbabwe – a big performance was required at the Shere Bangla National Stadium, and that is exactly what Dinesh Chandimal’s team delivered.

After dismantling the hosts for just 82 – Bangladesh’s ninth-lowest total in ODIs – Sri Lanka’s openers Danushka Gunathilaka (40*) and Upul Tharanga (34*) knocked off the runs required in just 11.5 overs, in a match which lasted just 35.5 overs in total. Having come into the match with three consecutive victories, Bangladesh were brought back down to earth with a bump and must now regroup ahead of Saturday’s final against Sri Lanka at the same venue.

In a decision which came back to haunt his side, Mashrafe Mortaze elected to bat after winning the toss. Suranga Lakmal made short work of Anamul Haque, the opener falling for a duck after dragging on to a wide and full delivery, and within five overs Bangladesh found themselves three wickets down, with key players Tamim Iqbal and Shakib Al Hasan back in the hutch.

Danushka Gunathilaka had a huge part to play in both dismissals, first throwing down the stumps from backward point to send Shakib on his way for 8, and then taking a stunning catch in the same position to remove the dangerman Tamim Iqbal – who averaged 122 in the tournament before this innings – for just 5 and give Lakmal (3/21) his second wicket. It was to prove the decisive passage of play in the match, and one from which Bangladesh never recovered.

Bangladesh’s batsmen found it tough going against Sri Lanka’s seamers Bangladesh’s batsmen found it tough going against Sri Lanka’s seamers

Mushfiqur Rahim did his best to carry his team to a score of some respectability, battling hard for his 26, but found precious little support. Sabbir Rahman (10) was the only other batsman to reach double figures.

Dushmantha Chameera bowled with good pace, returning the excellent figures of 5-1-6-2 – including the wicket of Rahim who was undone by a slower delivery – and Thisara Perera and left-arm wrist-spinner Lakshan Sandakan also took two wickets apiece to wrap up Bangladesh’s innings after just 24 overs.

Gunathilaka and Tharanga looked in a hurry to finish the match off quickly, hitting four fours and five sixes between them to reach their target with consummate ease and confirm Sri Lanka’s place in the tri-series final, with Zimbabwe missing out.

With three wins from three, and home conditions working in their favour, Bangladesh – who defeated Sri Lanka by 163 runs in their previous encounter after racking up 320/7 – came into this match as strong favourites to lift the trophy. However, Sri Lanka’s manner of victory means they will head into the final with a renewed spring in their step and everything to play for.