On Thursday, it was the Sri Lanka of the yore as they hammered the Bangladesh bowlers with disdain and took command of the game at the MCG. For once, it proved to be great toss to win for Angelo Mathews, who took the first chance to bat. They began well and after the fall of the first wicket, did even better. Tilakaratne Dilshan and Kumar Sangakkara came up fine unbeaten centuries to take Sri Lanka to 332/1 in 50 overs. Of course, the Lankans also derived immense benefits from the sloppy Bangla fielding. The victory chase of 333 became too monumental for Bangladesh, especially against Malinga’s fiery spell, in which he gobbled up three Bangla wickets. Suranga Lakmal and Dilshan complimented with 2 each as Bangladesh innings folded at 240 in 47 overs and they fell short by 92 runs in the end.
After their poor performances thus far, Sri Lanka announced their true intent in their match against Bangladesh. Angelo Mathews won the coin toss and elected to bat. Except the first few overs, when edges were floored by Bangla fielders, Sri Lanka generally did nothing wrong. The first wicket stand between Lahiru Thirimanne and Tilakaratne Dilshan realized 122 before Thirimanne fell in the 25th over. But Dilshan had the mercurial Sangakkara for company afterwards. The two seasoned campaigners did not separate until the end and added 210 runs in 25.3 overs. Dilshan reached his highest ever ODI score of 161. For Sangakkara it was the 400th ODI appearance and he celebrated it with his 22nd century. In another record, Sri Lanka emerged as the only side ever to lose just one wicket in a 50-over innings. Poor fielding by Bangladesh helped the Sri Lankan innings. There were three dropped catches and a stumping miss. Lahiru Thirimanne would have gone back in the first over, if Anamul Haque had not dropped the simplest of chances at slip. Sangakkara was dropped on 23 by Taskin Ahmed and at 60 by Mominul Haque at point. Anamul had another chance for running out Dilshan, when the batsman was halfway down the pitch in a mix-up with Sangakkara but there was no back-up at the striker’s end.
Thirimanne’s was the only wicket to fall, when the opener guided a short ball from Rubel Hossain to the third man, where Taskin Ahmad waited. Afterwards, Dilshan and Sangakkara batted merrily to take the score past 300. With 115 runs realized in the last 10 overs, the bowlers were thoroughly demoralized and so were the fielders. Dilshan brought out his full range of cricket shots and created innovative shots as well. He used the lap sweeps and the reverse sweeps to great effect. With Dilshan in full flow, Sangakkara allowed most of the strike to his partner but came back in his own in the power-play overs. Dilshan went on to finish with an unbeaten 161 in 146 balls with 22 hits to the fence. As innings reached the death overs, Dilshan struggled with cramps but Sangakkara assumed control and finished his own century in the last over. Sangakkara took just 76 balls to remain unbeaten at 105 with 13 fours and a six as Sri Lanka finished with 332/1.
Bangladesh made a poor start to their 333-run chase, when Tamim Iqbal was beaten by the pace of Lasith Malinga’s second ball that rattled his stumps. Coming after Iqbal, Soumya Sarkar played boldly to hit Malinga for four off a full toss. Sarkar struck four more boundaries including three off successive deliveries from Suranga Lakmal. Bangladesh badly needed such counter attack but Sarkar lasted just 15 balls for his 25 runs, before Angelo Mathews found the edge of his bat. Sarkar’s dismissal was followed by Mominul Haque’s wicket and Bangladesh reeled at 41/3 in the 7th over. Mahmudullah came ahead of Shakib but couldn’t deliver what was expected of him. In the 21st over, Bangladesh had already lost five wickets for 100 and despite Shakib, Musfiqur and Sabbir Rahaman making impressive scores later; the defeat loomed in the horizon. The required run rate kept mounting and with Lakmal and Dilshan bowling intelligently, Bangladesh were bowled out for 240 in 47 overs to hand over a 92 run victory for Sri Lanka.
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