Sri Lanka warm-up for Asia Cup final with win

Mirpur (Bangladesh), March 6: Sri Lanka warmed up for Saturday’s Asia Cup cricket final against Pakistan with a three-wicket win over hosts Bangladesh in the last league match at the Sher-e-Bangla National Stadium here Thursday.

Chasing a small target of 205, Sri Lanka faltered badly and were reduced to 75/5 but skipper Angelo Matthews struck a fine unbeaten 74 to take the team home safely to 208 for seven with six balls to spare and maintained their unbeaten run in the tournament. Bangladesh fast bowler Al-Amin Hossain got two for 42.

With three wickets down for just eight runs on board, Lahiru Thirimane (33) and Ashan Priyaranjan (24) tried to resurrect the Sri Lankan innings. But after they departed, Matthews took control of the proceedings with a patient 103-ball 71 that had seven fours and a six.

Matthews stitched a crucial 82-run stand for the sixth wicket with Chaturanga De Silva (44) and it helped them recover from a precarious 75 for five to 157 for six.

Mathews, who was adjudged as Man of the math, admitted that he was under a bit of pressure since Sri Lanka were losing wickets quickly.

“I was under a little bit of pressure to be honest. We were losing wickets and had to consolidate. Chaturanga batted beautifully. We wanted to try out a few things (against Bangladesh), wanted to chase and see how we go about it. It was not easy once we lost a few wickets,” he said.

Matthews lauded the bowlers and said it would be a problem for the team management when Lasith Malinga returns for the final match. The captain also hoped that senior batsman Mahela Jayawardene will come good in the title clash.

“It is a good problem for us (when Malinga comes back). All the bowlers did well.(Mahela) is a big match player and I am sure he will come good for us,” he said.

It was a clinical show by the Sri Lankan bowlers, who restricted Bangladesh to 204 for nine in 50 overs after the hosts opted to bat first. While spin duo Ajantha Mendis (2/55) and Priyaranjan (2/11) did the damage to the top-order, pacers Suranga Lakmal (2/32) and Thisara Pereira (2/29) troubled the lower-order.

Opening batsmen Anamul Haque (49) and Shamshur Rehman (39) gave a good start to Bangladesh with their 74-run start. But after the duo departed, Bangladesh lost the way — their batsmen had to blame themselves for gifting away their wickets.

Former skipper Shakib al Hasan (20), Nasir Hossain (30) and Mahamadullah (30) got starts but failed to convert them into a big score.

IANS