(ESPN) Sri Lanka kept their semi-final prospects alive in Group A with a comprehensive win yesterday over Bangladesh that they would not have counted on at the halfway mark.
Put into bat at Gros Islet, St Lucia they managed only 97 from their 20 overs, thanks mostly to former captain Shashikala Siriwardene’s 31. The allrounder batted till the last over of an innings that never found momentum, and returned figures of 4-0-10-2 as Asia Cup winners Bangladesh surrendered early in the chase against their regional rivals.
It was Jahanara Alam who had given them a strong chance once again. The seamer managed to utilise the conditions right from the first ball, getting an outswinger to curve back at Yasoda Mendis’ toes and roll onto leg stump. This made it appear like the strategy to not open with Chamari Atapattu would not make much of a difference. But Sri Lanka chose to promote wicketkeeper Dilani Manodara to No. 3.
But Alam and the spinners gave away nothing to her or to makeshift opener Hasini Perera, and the Powerplay score of 17 for 1 wasn’t wildly different from what they’d managed against South Africa two days ago. And the batting experiment looked even worse as Sri Lanka fell to 30 for 3 in nine overs, that third wicket a complete mess with Manodara and Atapattu at the same end as Bangladesh got rid of the former at the other.
Atapattu and Siriwardene pushed the pace over the next two overs, but with the captain’s top edge and dismissal in the 13th over, another experiment had failed. With the big hitters all gone early, Siriwardene was left with the lower-middle order, using her experience to manoeuvre the gaps on an outfield that is still reeling under the effects of rain that has affected the entire week. She hit two fours and a six, most of which came late in her innings, and fell with two balls to go. Alam, once again, cutting short any momentum Siriwardene wanted to provide, and following it up with her third wicket to stop Sri Lanka from getting three figures.
At the toss, Sri Lanka had wanted to get 120, and Bangladesh had wanted to restrict them to 120; but Sri Lanka fell 23 short of their target and Bangladesh fell 25 short of that. Such was the shock from left-arm seamer Udeshika Prabhodani’s two wickets in the first over, that Bangladesh looked they had decided not to attempt any attacking shots. It was the chase of an inexperienced side, and that was visible with the first ball. Sanjida Islam got a poor decision from Jacqueline Williams, being struck well outside off stump, but Ayasha Rahman was not alive to the situation and the review was not taken.
Three balls later, Fargana Hoque did review, but her 50-50 lbw decision was deemed umpire’s call, the tracker showing the ball brushing leg stump. Prabhodani continued tormenting them with the inswingers, but went off in the fifth over when she dropped a return catch and seemingly split the webbings between middle and ring finger.
They wouldn’t need her though. The Sri Lankan spinners took charge, using the wind to drift the ball menacingly away, lobbing it slower and slower at the batsmen. Most of them defended for the major part, two of them looked to drill it through off side only to be caught at short extra, and the occasional slogs didn’t go too far on a sluggish pitch. At the halfway stage,
Bangladesh hadn’t even made 30, and their lack of intent made it evident they weren’t getting anywhere close to the target. In all, they hit three boundaries, and played 75 dot balls, the kind of batting performance that is congruent with an early exit from a major tournament.