Asia Cup 2014 Results: Mathews Keeps Sri Lanka Unbeaten as Bangladesh End Campaign With Another Loss

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By Deepak Vikraman | March 7, 2014 2:47 AM EST

Sri Lanka players give each other a pat on the back after restricting Bangladesh to a small total in their Asia Cup 2014 match, 6 March. Reuters
Sri Lanka players give each other a pat on the back after restricting Bangladesh to a small total in their Asia Cup 2014 match, 6 March. Reuters

Bangladesh will wonder just what went wrong. Coming off a brilliant Asia Cup campaign a couple of years back, hopes would have been high on the home team going one better and taking the title in front of their home crowd this time around.

However, what transpired was the opposite, with Bangladesh losing all four of their matches of Asia Cup 2014, with the latest and final one coming at the hands of Sri Lanka, who remained unbeaten in the tournament with another classy win, this time by three wickets.

Choosing to bat first after winning the toss, Bangladesh could not find the right moves with the bat, with the Sri Lankans restricting them to a sub-par 204 for nine in their 50 overs at the Shere Bangla National Stadium in Mirpur.

The reply for Sri Lanka was far from serene, with the Lions falling to eight for three and 75 for five, before the calm head of skipper Angelo Mathews (74, 103b, 7x4, 1x6), along with some help from Chaturanga De Silva, made the difference as Sri Lanka finished on 208 for seven in 49 overs to warm up for the final against Pakistan on Saturday with yet another 'W'.

There was to be no easy-peasy opening partnership from Kusal Perera and Lahiru Thirimanne to set the game up for the rest of the batsmen, as the former played a loose shot in just the second ball of the innings, with a thin edge allowing Anamul Haque to take the catch behind the stumps off Al-Amin Hossain.

Too much worry would have not crept in, though, with Kumar I'm-in-tremendous-form Sangakkara coming in; but another masterful knock was not forthcoming from the evergreen left-hander, with Al-Amin (two for 42) again striking, inducing an edge of a carrot-offside delivery with Nasir Hossain completing the catch at the second attempt in the slips.

So then, this was a perfect opportunity for Mahela Jayawardene to get some much-needed time out in the middle ahead of the final; at least that would have been the thinking. However, Thirimanne decided to rub a little more salt into his teammate's wounds, calling Jayawardene for a quick single before deciding against it to leave the right-hander stranded and with it leaving Sri Lanka on eight for three in the fourth over.

Ashan Priyanjan (24, 38b, 3x4) and I-don't-want-to-get-out-now-and-face-Jayawardene's-wrath Thirimanne steadied the innings, or at least attempted to, with a 39-run partnership, but a ripper of a rising delivery from Ziaur Rahman ended the former's stay in the middle, leaving Sri Lanka on 47 for four.

Thirimanne (31, 57b, 3x4), looking comfortable milking the bowlers for singles along with Mathews, fell off the bowling of Arafat Sunny a little later while attempting a six over long-on with Rubel Hossain completing a splendid running catch.

In a small chase all it takes is a decent-sized partnership to swing the game the batting side's way and it came in the form of Mathews and Chaturanga De Silva who put on 82 runs in 98 balls to take Sri Lanka close.

With the finalists cruising home, De Silva (44, 52b, 5x4) decided to make the game interesting again, first gifting a catch to Al-Amin off a full toss from Shakib Al Hasan, which was duly dropped, before going for a wild slog off Mahmudullah to be given caught behind the wicket - even if replays suggested perhaps there was no edge involved.

Sri Lanka still needed 48 from 10.3 overs, but with Mathews looking as calm as ever at the crease, soaking up the pressure with consummate ease, the rest of the runs was easy enough with Thisara Perera and Sachitra Senanayake providing the desired company at the other end.

The first innings was not quite like Bangladesh's last match, with three of the batsmen who stepped up brilliantly against Pakistan - Mominul Haque, Mushfiqur Rahman and Shakib Al Hasan - unable to continue their good form against Sri Lanka.

The openers Anamul Haque, who scored a century in the previous encounter, and Shamsur Rahman, in for the injured Imrul Kayes, gave a solid-enough start for Bangladesh, lasting 18 overs for 74 runs before it all started going pear-shaped courtesy the bamboozling abilities of Ajantha Mendis, who has thrived in these conditions.

Shamsur (39, 57b, 6x4) missed a delivery from Mendis (two for 55), with the ball striking him on the pads and umpire Bruce Oxenford, after much deliberation, thinking the ball would at least graze the leg-stump, which the replays showed it would, and raising that finger.

Mendis had two wickets to his name a couple of balls later, as Mominul, so impressive against Pakistan, played down the wrong line and saw his off-stump rattled.

Skipper Mushfiqur Rahim, who tormented Saeed Ajmal and struck a century against India in this tournament, could not find those batting chops again as De Silva got an lbw decision after the ball struck the batsman's pad following a scoop attempt. Mushfiqur's wicket put Bangladesh on 87 for three after 22 overs, with the home side desperately needing a partnership.

Anamul and Shakib attempted to do just that, but after a terse 19 runs in a little over seven overs together, Anamul (49, 86b, 2x4, 1x6) fell to Priyanjan, in for the ineffective Dinesh Chandimal, one short of his half-century with Thirimanne picking up a brilliant catch at mid-wicket at the second time of asking.

Shakib could also not find his slam-bang groove, with the left-hander lobbing a catch to Mathews at midwicket after attempting a second straight boundary off Priyanjan (two for 11). The wicket of the former captain put Bangladesh on a precarious 119/5 in the 34th over, leaving Mahmudullah (30, 41b, 2x4) and Nasir Hossain (30, 49, 1x4) to stitch together a partnership of 55, which at least allowed Bangladesh to get to a score past 200, which in the end proved to be a tad short.

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(Photo: REUTERS / Andrew Biraj)
Sri Lanka's fielders celebrate after they finish bowling against Bangladesh during their Asia Cup 2014 one-day international (ODI) cricket match in Dhaka March 6, 2014.
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