“Bangladesh, Bangladesh,” cries rent the air. Mexican waves were discarded in the collective urge to stand up and applaud. The crowd was on its feet and the host made another confident step towards gaining respect for its cricketing ability.
Egged by boisterous fans and a beaming Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina, Bangladesh registered a five-wicket victory over Sri Lanka in the Asia Cup match at the Sher-e-Bangla National Stadium, and with that, M.S. Dhoni's men were forced to advance their return tickets to India.
Mushfiqur Rahim's merry bunch (8 pts) qualified for the final against Pakistan here on Thursday, while defending champion India (8) and Sri Lanka (0), finalists in the last two editions, were left nursing their ‘what-could-have-been' tales.
Chasing a revised target of 212 in 40 overs, after a 105-minute rain-interruption forced the invocation of the Duckworth-Lewis Method and a scaling down of Sri Lanka's original score of 232, Bangladesh initially fluctuated between hope and despair.
A confident Tamil Iqbal (59) picked his spots on the off-side and when the seamers over-compensated, the ball sped through mid-wicket. However, three of his partners succumbed tamely with Mohammad Nazimuddin chopping on to his stumps, Jahurul Islam miscuing a pull and Mushfiqur Rahim revealing a gap between bat and pad.
The host still remained in the hunt with Tamim and Shakib Al Hasan (56) sharing a rollicking 76-run fourth-wicket partnership off 73 balls. Shakib was severe on Suranga Lakmal, painting an arc from third-man to covers and pinching three fours in an over. Meanwhile, Tamim registered his third fifty of the tournament and a run later, watched Sachithra Senanayake fail to latch on to a caught-and-bowled chance.
The off-spinner, who replaced Seekkuge Prasanna in the Sri Lankan eleven, made amends soon with Tamim slashing straight to point. And when Shakib rocked back to defend against Senanayake and got pinged on the pads, Bangladesh (135/5) was staring at the crossroads.
Thankfully for the host, young Nasir Hossain gave the right answers in a plucky stay at the crease marked by irreverence and the odd streak of luck, while Lasith Malinga was kept at bay.
In the afternoon, Mushfiqur opted to field and reaped his rewards as the Sri Lankan top-order lost its way against Nazmul Hossain, who replaced an injured Shafiul Islam. Mahela Jayawardene's bat moved across a touch too slow, Kumar Sangakkara found the fielder at extra cover and Tillakaratne Dilshan dragged one on to his stumps.
It was in a sense, a repeat-act for the seamer, who had inflicted similiar agony on Sri Lanka in the tri-series final here in 2009, when he prised out Upul Tharanga, Jayawardene and Thilan Thushara. The visitor then found some breathing space through an 88-run fourth-wicket partnership between Chamara Kapugedera (62), who replaced an indisposed Dinesh Chandimal, and Lahiru Thirimanne (48).
The duo preferred stability to flamboyance, but there were slices of urgency as reflected in a Thirimanne straight-drive off Shahadat Hossain and Kapugedera's sweep against Shakib. Just when it seemed that the two batsmen would cut loose, Thirimanne suffered a freak dismissal. Left-arm spinner Abdur Razzak strayed down the leg-side and by sheer reflex Mushfiqur moved behind and saw the ball bounce off his pads and disturb the stumps, leaving Thirimanne stranded. The accidental exit was followed by a 49-run fifth-wicket partnership off 47 balls between Kapugedera and Tharanga (48) before the innings stumbled again.
Immediately after lofting Razzak for four, Kapugedera fatally chanced his arm.
The rest faded away while Tharanga's six off Shakib offered minor relief to a glum Jayawardene on a forgettable day for him and the Indians!
Sri Lanka: M. Jayawardene b Nazmul 5 (12b), T. Dilshan b Nazmul 19 (22b, 3x4), K. Sangakkara c Nazimuddin b Nazmul 6 (14b), C. Kapugedera c Shakib b Razzak 62 (92b, 4x4), L. Thirimanne st. Mushfiqur b Razzak 48 (73b, 3x4), U. Tharanga c Mushfiqur b Shahadat 48 (44b, 5x4, 1x6), F. Maharoof c Mushfiqur b Shakib 3 (3b), N. Kulasekara lbw b Shakib 1 (4b), S. Senanayake (not out) 19 (21b, 3x4), L. Malinga b Mortaza 10 (13b, 1x4), S. Lakmal (run out) 0 (1b); Extras (lb-3, w-8): 11; Total (in 49.5 overs): 232.
Power Plays: One (Overs 1-10): 32/3; Bowling (16-20): 21/0; Batting (36-40): 28/1.
Fall of wickets: 1-19 (Jayawardene), 2-29 (Sangakkara), 3-32 (Dilshan), 4-120 (Thirimanne), 5-169 (Kapugedera), 6-175 (Maharoof), 7-183 (Kulasekara), 8-204 (Tharanga), 9-230 (Malinga).
Bangladesh bowling: Mortaza 9.5-1-30-1, Nazmul 8-1-32-3, Shahadat 8-0-51-1, Razzak 10-0-44-2, Shakib 10-1-56-2, Mahmudullah 4-0-16-0.
Bangladesh (revised target: 212 in 40 overs): Tamim c Thirimanne b Senanayake 59 (57b, 9x4), Nazimuddin b Kulasekara 6 (7b, 1x4), Jahurul c Kapugedera b Lakmal 2 (15b), Mushfiqur b Kulasekara 1 (4b), Shakib lbw b Senanayake 56 (46b, 7x4), Nasir Hossain (not out) 36 (61b, 3x4), Mahumudullah (not out) 32 (33b, 3x4); Extras (lb-13, w-7): 20; Total (for five wkts. in 37.1 overs): 212.
Power Plays: One (Overs 1-8): 41/3; Bowling (21-24): 18/1; Batting (36-37.1): 7/0.
Fall of wickets: 1-8 (Nazimuddin), 2-39 (Jahurul), 3-40 (Mushfiqur), 4-116 (Tamim), 5-135 (Shakib).
Sri Lanka bowling: Malinga 8-0-29-0, Kulasekara 6-0-30-2, Lakmal 7.1-0-44-1, Senanayake 8-0-38-2, Maharoof 6-0-46-0, Dilshan 2-0-12-0.
Keywords: Asia Cup