Murali helps Sri Lanka clinch a thriller
by CricketArchive Staff Reporter

Event:Bangladesh Tri-Series 2008/09

DateLine: 16th January 2009


Muttiah Muralitharan's late cameo clinched the trophy for Sri Lanka after a pulsating low-scoring match in Mirpur. Bangladesh were in control of the game when Shakib Al Hasan's double-wicket maiden left Sri Lanka needing 39 off 36 balls with two wickets in hand. Murali however blasted a 16-ball 33, including 32 off two Rubel Hossain overs to break Bangladeshi hearts.


Sri Lanka's bowlers, led by medium-pacer Nuwan Kulasekara destroyed the Bangladeshi batting line up in the morning session. Some patient batting from Raqibul Hasan and Mahmudullah, who negotiated the spinners well, lifted Bangladesh but Ajantha Mendis and Muttiah Muralitharan polished off the tail to leave Sri Lanka a fairly straightforward target. Kulasekara was the stand-out performer, getting the ball to move both ways. The conditions were helpful but Sri Lanka's task was made easier by Bangladesh's batsmen. Junaid Siddique nicked an away-going delivery and Mushfiqur Rahim was cleaned up by an incutter. Tamim Iqbal only managed to edge it through to the keeper. The in-form Shakib Al Hasan also paid the price for a loose waft, an away-from-the-body off drive.


Bangladesh were 54 for 5 in the 19th over, with their key batsmen all dismissed. Raqibul and Mahmudullah, however, engineered a revival with a measured partnership. Their partnership raised 44 in nearly 14 overs and after Mahmudullah was bowled by Murali, Raqibul and Naeem Islam continued in the same vein. Mendis picked up three wickets as the last four went down for one run.


Sri Lanka in reply were stunned with the way the innings unfolded. Jayasuriya was caught short of his ground off the first ball. What followed then was absolutely stunning, Bangladesh holding Sri Lanka by the scruff of their neck and never letting the hold go till the last minute. Mortaza and Hossain worked themselves into a very good rhythm as they suffocated the Sri Lankan batsmen and also picked up wickets. Tharanga after prodding for 16 balls for his 2 runs finally had his patience snapped and went for a wild swing only edging it to Rahim. Jayawardene lasted two balls before he gave a simple catch to Rahim once again and Sri Lanka were reduced to an unbelievable 4 for 3. Just when they thought that the worse was behind them, Mortaza removed Kapugedera to leave the Lankan team wobbling at 5 for 4. Thushara was promoted but he too departed sooner that the team management expected and the scoreline read 6 for 5.


Sangakkara and Mubarak added 45 runs for the sixth wicket but then against the run of play Sri Lanka lost Mubarak when he attempted a suicidal single. Sangakkara and Mubarak joined forces and added 63 runs for the seventh wicket, with Mahroof hitting a couple of big sixers to ease the nerves of his mates in the dressing room. Sangakkara meanwhile completed a slow and sensible half century when once again they lost a crucial wicket. Sangakkara snapped by Shakib when he played too early a shot and then Kulasekara was cleaned up a couple of balls later giving Bangladesh the advantage.


Sri Lanka needed at that stage needed 39 of 36 balls with just two wickets standing. Mahroof was the last recognized batsman and with him he had Murali. All Sri Lankan hopes rested on Mahroof with Murali supporting him. But Murali turned out to be the trump card as he battered his way through and hand Sri Lanka a thriller. What worked against the favour of Bangladesh was that Mortaza had finished his his quota and Rubel was left to bowl at the depth. The third Powerplay was taken in the 46th over and Murali took full advantage of the field restrictions to score 20 runs from the 46th over and then again 12 from the 40th over to win the match.


In the end the lack of an experienced bowler in the ranks of Bangladesh towards the end cost the match.


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