Sri Lanka put one foot in final with huge win

Dambulla: Tillakaratne Dilshan produced a terrific all round show as Sri Lanka crushed Bangladesh by 126 runs to virtually qualify for the final of the Asia Cup cricket tournament on Friday.

After scoring an intimidating 312 for four, the hosts bowled out Bangladesh for a mere 186 and collected a bonus point to take their points tally to nine from two matches at the Rangiri Dambulla International stadium.

Dilshan first scored a fiery 71 while opening the innings and then capped the successful day with a three-wicket haul.

India, who play Pakistan in a crucial match tomorrow, have five points from their six-wicket win over Bangladesh earlier in the week.

Pakistan, who lost their opener to Sri Lanka, and Bangladesh (two defeats) are yet to open their account.

Bangladesh were hopelessly outclassed in all departments of the game. The bowling was far from international standard, reflecting that the team had not improved much since breaking into the ICC league in 1999.

The batting too lacked depth with batsmen casting away their wickets after getting their eye in.

Tamim Iqbal top scored with 51 (52b, 5x4, 1x6) while Junaid Siddique made a gutsy 35-ball 38 before being superbly caught by a diving Nuwan Kulasekara at square leg off Muthiah Muralitharan (2/38).

The rest of the batsmen lacked the wherewithal to challenge the Lankan dominance.

Earlier, half centuries by Dislhan, Upul Tharanag (54) and Kumar Sangakkara (52) and a brisk 73-run partnership between Angelo Mathews (42 not out) and Chamara Kapugedara 37 not out) for the unbroken fifth wicket put Lanka in total command.

Opting to bat on `Victory Day` in front of a boisterous home crowd, Sri Lanka galloped to 111 for no loss with Dilshan and Tharanga punishing the profligate Bangladesh new-ball attack led by Mashrafe Mortaza.

Mortaza conceded as many as 26 runs in two overs to set the tone for the Lankan rampage.

Bangladesh earned the breakthrough in the 16th over when Dilshan offered a feeble return catch to Shakib Al Hasan, the ball lobbing of the leading edge as he shaped to work the left arm spinner to square.

The flamboyant opener smashed 11 boundaries and a six during his 51-ball tenure at the square.

It was to the visitors` fortune that Tharanga offered his wicket on a platter to Mahmudullah in the 27th over. Dancing down the wicket to hit the off spinner, Tharanga completely missed the line of the ball to be stranded way down the crease.

Mushfiqur Rahim made no mistake with the offering, whipping off the bails after initially appealing for a down the leg catch behind the wicket.

Thereafter, it was Sri Lanka all the way as Sangakkara and Mahela Jayawardene picked runs with effortless ease, picking the gaps in the field with precision and converting ones into twos.

The elegant twosome had posted 69 runs for the third wicket in 66 balls when Jayawardene (43), venturing to hit Shafiul Islam through the vacant on-side, holed out to Shakib Al Hasan at covers.

Shafiul Islam, easily Bangladesh`s best bowler of the day, was to account for Sangakkara as well, having the Lankan captain caught at the point by Shakib Al Hasan.

But Angelo Mathews and Chamara Kapugedara ensured that Lanka finished on a high with a breezy partnership which took the wind out of the Bangladesh sail.



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