Bangladesh reached their second ever multi-nation tournament, as they decimated and embarrassed the Sri Lankans in the sixth match of the Asia Cup at Mirpur.
With this historic victory, Bangladesh, ended India’s hopes of reaching the finals, and will now meet Pakistan in the finals of the tournament.
Bangladesh Captain, Mushfiqur Rahim, was thrilled to be in the finals, and thanked the fans for all their love and support. “The final is one of the biggest achievements in our cricketing history. Hopefully we will cross that hurdle. It is a great boost to have the crowd supporting you” he said.
Rahim, also won the toss, and decided to bowl, perhaps remembering how they beat India after bowling first as well.
Sri Lankan openers Tillakaratne Dilshan and Mahela Jayawardene, who is also Captain of the side, walked out to the middle, hoping to win at least one match in the entire tournament.
However, Sri Lanka, couldn’t have gotten off to a worse start, as Jaywawardene, Dilshan and wicketkeeper Kumar Sangakkara, were dismissed early into the Sri Lankan innings.
But, just as things seemed to all be going Bangladesh’s way, the Sri Lankans were given a new spark of hope by Lahiru Thirimanne and Chamara Kapugedera.
Thrimanne and Kapugedera, started to build up a solid partnership, calling brilliantly for runs, while dispatching any short pitched deliveries to the boundary.
Once the pair had settled in, the Bangladesh bowlers were just trying too hard to dismiss them, which proved to be a huge mistake, as Thirimanne and Kapugedera, continued to control the match, while increasing their partnership as well.
The pair’s partnership soon passed the half century mark, and Bangladesh skipper, Rahim, was starting to get very frustrated with the bowling, which had become a lot looser.
However, just as the pair were both within striking distance of their half centuries, Rahim, removed Thrimanne with an absolutely amazing piece of stumping, forcing him to make the long walk back to the pavilion two runs short of his half century.
Kapugedera, meanwhile, was still looking in excellent form, as he continued to attack the Bangladesh bowling lineup, and soon enough reached a brilliant half century.
With Upul Tharanga also looking in good touch, the pair started up another partnership, but, just as it was creeping up towards the half century mark, the Bangladesh bowlers struck again, this time with the prize wicket of Kapugedera, bringing an end to his outstanding innings of 62, and the partnership at 49.
Upul Tharanga, was still fighting hard for Sri Lanka, but, had the hard task of watching partner after partner coming in, and almost immediately walking back to the pavilion after being taken out by a fired up Bangladesh bowling lineup.
Tharanga, knowing his list of partners was running low, tried to take his batting up a notch, but, to no avail, as he was caught behind, falling two runs shy of his half century as well.
Bangladesh, knowing that they had Sri Lanka on the ropes, kept up the pressure and removed their lower order batsmen quickly, before they could do any serious damage.
Nazmul Hossain, was the star of the Bangladesh bowlers, claiming three Sri Lankan wickets, while, Abdur Razzak and Shakib Al Hasan took two each. Mashrafe Mortaza and Shahadat Hossain also chipped in with a wicket each, as the bowlers superbly restricted Sri Lanka to just 232 runs.
However, just as Bangladesh were getting ready to start their chase of 233, the rain came down, and with the loss in time, the umpires decided to make it a 40 over match. With the use of the Duckworth Lewis method, Bangladesh had to chase a revised target of 212.
Bangladesh, looked to be full of confidence, as their two openers, Tamim Iqbal and Mohammed Nazimuddin, walked out to the middle.
However, Bangladesh were dealt a major confidence blow when opener Nazimuddin, batsman Jahurul Islam and Captain Mushfiqur Rahim were all dismissed early in the innings.
Iqbal, however, did not let any of the wickets bother him, as he and Shakib Al Hasan, got to work on repairing the early strikes that Sri Lanka had delivered.
Iqbal and Al Hasan, worked together in unison, communicating efficiently and hitting boundaries whenever they could, while guiding Bangladesh towards their target of 212.
The growing partnership between the pair, started to infuriate the Sri Lankan Captain, Mahela Jayawardene, as he tried to do everything in his power to keep his team motivated and alert.
However, it was no good, as Iqbal and Al Hasan, proved that Bangladesh wanted this win more, and with their excellent stroke play, it looked as if nothing was going to stop them.
But, Iqbal, upon reaching a dazzling half century, started to take more risks, which he paid the price for in the end, with his wicket. Iqbal was caught out on 59 from just 57 balls, as the Sri Lankans were delighted to have broken the threatening 76 run partnership.
Just as Iqbal was dismissed, Al Hasan, started to lose his focus, as he reached another half century, and this proved costly, as he was dismissed by Sachithra Senanayake on 56.
With Bangladesh stranded on 135 runs with five wickets down, things were starting to look grim for the hosts.
However, Nasir Hossian and Mohammad Mahmudullah, led the counter-attack for Bangladesh, and behind the cheers of the home fans, the determined pair, worked hard and started to put together a solid partnership.
Captain Jayawardene, was starting to get worried as the pair’s partnership continued to grow, and it looked as if there was no way of stopping it.
The Sri Lankan bowlers put every bit of energy they had into breaking the partnership, but, Mahmudullah and Hossian, refused to be bested.
Hossain, was slowly and steadily getting his runs, while Mahmudullah, seemed intent on finishing the game as soon as possible, showing no fear, as he smashed boundary after boundary.
With Bangladesh within striking distance of winning the match, Jayawardene knew that his side was going to lose, but, he was not going to go down without a fight, as Sri Lanka, tried to put the pressure on the two players, with some excellent fielding and bowling.
However, Hossain and Mahmudullah, composed themselves and sensibly worked towards the target, before finally hitting the winning runs, igniting a frenzied roar amongst the crowd, as the pair remained unbeaten on a partnership of 77.
With Bangladesh headed to the finals, the team ran a lap of honour along the ground, much to the delight of the home fans and Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina, who was overjoyed.
Sri Lanka’s Nuwan Kulasekara and Sachithra Senanayake were the only two Sri Lankan bowlers to take two wickets, while Suranga Lakmal, took one.
Sri Lanka Captain, Mahela Jayawardene, was visibly disappointed with the loss. “We did not play to our potential, quite a few mistakes, never got into a rhythm, Bangladesh played very well today, they created opportunities from the start. We felt the wicket was much slower, it came on better after the rain. We had our opportunity when they were 135 for 5, but some wayward bowling gave it away. It was a team effort from Bangladesh. Always going to be tough when you play Bangladesh at home” he said.
Captain Rahim, on the other hand, still couldn’t believe that his side had made it to the finals, against all odds, and said: “It has been a great tournament for us. Everyone chipped in. Nazmul Hossain did well, that set up the game. We had a stiff target after the rain, but Shakib and Tamim batted well. There are five or six people performing in every game.”
With Bangladesh claiming the other spot in the finals, everyone will be waiting to see if they can beat Pakistan, when the two sides meet on the 22nd of March at Dhaka, to be crowned champions of the Asia Cup.