Kumar Sangakkara cracked a solid 59 and Muttiah Muralitharan hammered 33 off 16 balls as Sri Lanka clinched a thrilling two-wicket win over Bangladesh in the tri-series final yesterday.
Sri Lanka made a horror start when they lost five wickets for six runs — the lowest score at the fall of the fifth wicket in the history of the one-day game — before surpassing Bangladesh’s total of 152 with 11 balls to spare.
Man-of-the-match Sangakkara kept his cool under pressure to mastermind his team’s win with his 44th half-century. He also added 63 runs for the seventh wicket with Farveez Maharoof, who remained unbeaten with 38.
“Kumar batted brilliantly and Murali has been practising his batting for the last couple of months,” Sri Lankan captain Mahela Jayawardene said. “Our fielding was quite good today. We just need to keep working hard and improving. We need to bat through.”
Bangladesh had an opportunity to clinch their maiden tri-series involving a Test-playing nation when left-arm spinner Shakib al-Hasan removed Sangakkara and Nuwan Kulasekara in three balls to reduce Sri Lanka to 114-8.
But Muralitharan shattered the hosts’ dream with his amazing power hitting as he plundered 20 runs in an over from teenage paceman Rubel Hossain, including three fours and a six.
The Sri Lankan tail-ender ensured the victory when he smashed Hossain for a four and a six off successive balls in the bowler’s next over before Maharoof ended the match with a single off spinner Naeem Islam in the penultimate over.
Sangakkara, who also took four catches, did not expect to be named man of the match.
“I’m surprised to get this because Murali won this for us in the end,” he said. “We just had to bat out the overs. I think the guys showed a lot of character, but we need to improve.”
Fast bowler Nazmul Hossain (3-30) was instrumental in putting Sri Lanka under pressure, grabbing three of the first five wickets in an incisive opening spell.
The tourists’ batting woes began with the first ball of the innings when veteran opener Sanath Jayasuriya was run out following a mix-up with Upul Tharanga.
The 21-year-old Hossain then rattled Sri Lanka with two wickets in three balls, having Tharanga and Jayawardene caught by wicket-keeper Mushfiqur Rahim.
Sri Lanka’s batting continued to wobble as Mashrafe Mortaza had Chamara Kapugedera caught by Junaid Siddique in the slips and Hossain bowled Thilan Thushara, but Sangakkara and Muralitharan came to their team’s rescue.
Sri Lanka’s bowlers earlier did a good job when they restricted the hosts to a modest total, with paceman Nuwan Kulasekara (3-19) doing the early damage and unorthodox spinner Ajantha Mendis (3-24) striking in the closing overs.
Raqibul Hasan top-scored with a fighting 43 not out. He also added 53 for the seventh wicket with Naeem Islam (21), the highest stand of the innings.
Mohammad Mahmudullah was the other main run-getter with 26.