Bangladesh v Sri Lanka, Tri-series final, Mirpur January 16, 2009

Ashraful gutted but highlights improvement

Cricinfo staff

Shakib Al Hasan: "We were excited and also a touch nervous probably because we have not been in a situation like this before" © Getty Images

Bangladesh captain Mohammad Ashraful was left ruing what could have been, after the hosts looked to be on course to pick up their first tri-series trophy, only to be pipped at the post by Sri Lanka who held on for a two-wicket victory in the final in Mirpur.

"It is a sinking feeling," he said. "Defending 152 is very tough but when Shakib ran Sanath Jayasuriya out first ball then we all felt that it could be our day. We believed in ourselves and we knew that the the Sri Lankan top-order was not in the best of form. Our plan was to bowl straight and to be at our best in the field."

Sri Lanka had delayed taking their Powerplay and Muttiah Muralitharan, with a batting average of 6.01 coming into this game, picked the perfect time to make his highest ODI score with Sri Lanka reeling at 114 for 8.

He took apart Rubel Hossain, hitting him for three fours and a six in the 46th over, but Ashraful's move to persist with Rubel for the last power play as well, horribly backfired as Murali clouted another four and a six to level the scores with two overs to spare.

"The same bowler had been outstanding in the same situation in the last match," said Ashraful. "We had planned on giving him the ball in the Powerplay because he has the extra pace and he can bowl the bouncer and the yorker effectively. With Muralitharan on strike, I backed him to get a wicket but he couldn't pitch it in the spots he wanted. In the end it was an unbelievable innings from Murali."

Batsman Shakib Al Hasan admitted that nerves did play a part during the final but Bangladesh would still take heart from their strong showing. "We were excited and also a touch nervous probably because we have not been in a situation like this before," he said. "I thought we brought out our best in the field. I thought this final was fantastic education for us and we will benefit from this. We have improved a lot, we the players feel it and we are getting better and stronger all the time. I think it is showing."