Sri Lanka storm to 64-run win
Sri Lanka's progress to 147 for 5 was often tortuous and ragged, but the value of perseverance was amply illustrated as the bowlers made short work of Bangladesh on a sluggish pitch where batsmen rarely felt at ease. While it was the slow bowlers that starred for Bangladesh, the fast men did the damage for Sri Lanka, with the new-ball duo of Chaminda Vaas and Dilhara Fernando once again outstanding. The loss pushed Bangladesh out of contention for a semi-final place, and left Sri Lanka needing to beat Australia to progress to the final four.
Bangladesh were left to reflect on both some ordinary shot selection and the final phase of the Sri Lankan innings, when Jehan Mubarak and Tillakaratne Dilshan hustled the runs that had been at a premium as the batsmen struggled in the middle overs. Their own reply started poorly, with Nazimuddin trapped leg before in Vaas's opening over. And after the spirited Aftab Ahmed clattered three fours in Fernando's opening over, the bowler exacted retribution in the best possible fashion, having Tamim Iqbal caught at third man before ripping through Aftab's defence with an express yorker.
That wicket maiden set the tone, and when Mohammad Ashraful skied Vaas to cover, Bangladesh were sinking fast. Sri Lanka's bowlers were backed up by some terrific fielding as well, with Lasith Malinga's throw from deep midwicket catching Mahmudullah short of his crease, and a superb combination between Farveez Maharoof and Kumar Sangakkara running out Mushfiqur Rahim.
Maharoof had earlier knocked over Shakib Al Hasan, whose was the only one apart from Aftab to hint at an appetite for the fight. Mashrafe Mortaza's stand-and-flail effort was terminated by Malinga's pace and Sanath Jayasuriya then mopped up the rest as Bangladesh subsided to 83.
Earlier, Mubarak's unbeaten 31 saved Sri Lankan blushes after a Scrooge-like opening spell from Syed Rasel and some clever slow bowling on a sluggish pitch had sucked the momentum out of their innings.
Sri Lanka couldn't have made a worse start, losing Jayasuriya to the third ball of the innings, cutting Mortaza to Mahmudullah at deep-backward point. Upul Tharanga stroked a couple of boundaries, but with Sangakkara once again struggling, Sri Lanka were never able to impose their will on the proceedings.
Their plight got worse when Tharanga fell in freakish fashion, with an edge behind being trapped between Rahim's knees. Bangladesh could have built on that even further, had Rahim not fluffed a run-out chance against Mahela Jayawardene, before putting down a routine catch off Mahmudullah. Mahmudullah conceded just 19 with his offspin, and the other slow bowlers showed similar control as Sri Lanka's batsmen were kept on a leash. Sangakkara was the first to lose his patience, charging Mahmudullah to see his stumps rearranged.
Chamara Silva came in and smacked a six, but was then leg before to Shakib, and with Jayawardene struggling, Sri Lanka were left to rely entirely on singles and twos. Abdur Razzak finally got him, bowled off the inside edge, but Mubarak injected some energy into the innings with a slash over point, a straight loft for four and a carve over extra-cover that Aftab could only tip over the rope for six. On a pitch that only got slower, it was more than enough.
Dileep Premachandran is associate editor of Cricinfo