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20 March, 2012

Bangladesh reach historic final

Bangladesh v Sri Lanka, Asia Cup, Mirpur

Shakib key in Bangladesh chase

Bangladesh reach historic final 
The Report by Kanishkaa Balachandran
Tamim Iqbal flicks one off his pads, Bangladesh v Sri Lanka, Asia Cup, Mirpur, March 20, 2012March 20, 2012
 A mid-innings downpour spiced up a slow pitch and made it an even contest as Bangladesh chased a reduced target of 212 off 40 overs. Rain cut the match short by an hour and 45 minutes, Duckworth-Lewis reduced the target by 21 but increased the asking-rate to 5.30 runs per over, thereby giving both teams a chance.
Bangladesh's hopes of making the final hinged on two of their most experienced top-order batsmen, Tamim Iqbal and Shakib Al Hasan, who consolidated after a spurt of wickets. Tamim departed for 59, and Shakib was called upon once again to build on the platform set by the opener.
The water under the covers gave the pitch the kind of zip missing during the afternoon. Lasith Malinga fired his swinging yorkers in straightaway at Nazimuddin, before unleashing a barrage of short deliveries that fizzed past his face. The inswingers of Nuwan Kulasekara offered no respite and Nazimuddin ended up inside-edging onto his stumps. Jahurul Islam got a fiery welcome by Malinga: he took his eyes off a bouncer and it hit his helmet, but the Sri Lanka players were convinced there was bat involved as well, as the ball lobbed to short cover. Jahurul miscued a pull in Suranga Lakmal's first over before Mushfiqur Rahim, who promoted himself, left the arena flummoxed by a full, inswinger from Kulasekara which thudded into his off stump.
Bangladesh were three down for 40, but the passage of play was punctuated by some blistering strokeplay by Tamim. His balance and follow-through were exemplary, especially in his driving through the off side. Mahela Jayawardene tried to plug that gap with a short point, and later with two fielders up close at cover and extra cover, but Tamim was not deterred. He lofted one over the covers and then whipped consecutive boundaries through midwicket, showing his class on both sides of the wicket.
Shakib was also given an examination with the short delivery, with two men in the deep for the hook. An attempted hook cleared the wicketkeeper, after which he settled into more risk-free batting, crashing Lakmal for three consecutive boundaries through the off side.
Tamim reached his half-century with a clip for four off Farveez Maharoof, and his pleasing strokeplay won the applause of the country's premiere Sheikh Hasina, who turned up for the game. He was dropped by Sachitra Senanayake, after lobbing a simple chance back to the bowler, but Senanayake finally got his man when an uppish slash was taken at point. Tamim walked back to a hush from the expectant crowd, but the mood would have been one of relief in the Indian camp back at the hotel.
Innings Sri Lanka 232 (Kapugedera 62, Tharanga 48, Nazmul 3-32) v Bangladesh 
An inspired performance in the field put Bangladesh in a good position to extend Sri Lanka's miserable run in the tournament and halt India's chances of making the final. Shafiul Islam's injury turned out to be a blessing in disguise for Bangladesh as his replacement, Nazmul Hossain, rattled Sri Lanka's top order with three wickets and gave them the early caffeine boost, before the spinners thwarted any significant resistance from Sri Lanka's middle order to keep them to a middling 231. However, the threat facing Bangladesh would be the dark clouds, which looked ominous as it rained wickets towards the end.
Chamara Kapugedera and Lahiru Thirimanne added 88 for the fourth wicket, but one of them needed to bat through the innings to set a competitive target. Upul Tharanga made a breezy fifty, but not for the first time since his demotion, he had to repair the damage done upfront, again raising questions about the structure of the batting line-up.
Bangladesh came out with a sense of purpose, fielding with intent after winning the toss. They were aided by a surface which, though not the same used for the India-Pakistan game, appeared slower and suited their crop of bowlers. The seamers bowled several slower deliveries to tighten the noose on the run-rate.
Nazmul's start was inauspicious - he was thrashed past backward point by Tillakaratne Dilshan, but he struck back quickly by removing his partner. Mahela Jayawardene missed a straight one and had his off stump knocked back.
Sri Lanka persisted with Kumar Sangakkara, who has been inconsistent of late, at No.3. He wasn't allowed to dominate at the start, as the alert infield did its best to limit the quick singles. He survived two close run-out chances, and in an attempt to break free drove Nazmul on the up to Nazimuddin at extra cover. Dilshan was found out by the slowness of the pitch when he tried to cut Nazmul and ended up dragging it to the base of the middle stump.
The loss of wickets dented the run-rate, as Sri Lanka could only manage 32 off the first ten overs. After a dry spell, Thirimanne eased a boundary down the ground off Shahadat Hossain, before sweeping and cutting the left-arm spinners behind the wicket. Kapugedera, under pressure to keep his place, made good use of his promotion, using his feet to the spinners. A stroke of luck, though, gave Bangladesh the breakthrough when Thirimanne nudged Abdur Razzak off his pads and was stumped after the ball deflected off Mushfiqur Rahim's pads.
Tharanga's arrival perked up the scoring, as he punished a wayward Shahadat for three quick boundaries. Kapugedera managed a face-saving half-century, but his innings was cut short by some sharp reflexes by Shakib Al Hasan at extra cover. Shakib struck with the ball soon after, getting Farveez Maharoof to edge to the keeper and trapping Nuwan Kulasekara lbw.
Tharanga stepped down the track to Shakib to launch the only six of the innings, in the 45th over. Sachithra Senanayake gave Sri Lanka a late surge to lift them to a target which could still test the hosts, despite their renewed confidence after chasing 290 against India. The drizzle picked up and the covers came on during the innings break. If play resumes, Sri Lanka would hope the rain spices up the pitch. There is, however, the provision of a reserve day if rain has its say this evening.
Kanishkaa Balachandran is a senior sub-editor at ESPNcricinfo

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