Dambulla: Sri Lanka's decision to use their Asia Cup outing against hapless Bangladesh as batting practice for the final meant eschewing the chance Friday night of an innings of 400 or more in an ODI for the third time in four years.
The first was against Holland in Amstelveen on 2006, the second against India in Rajkot last year, and the way the launching pad was set here at Rangiri Stadium, by Tillakaratne
Dilshan a projected total of 420 looked possible.
It looked possible as well with the runs flowing off the mercurial bat of the Sri Lanka all-rounder and Upul Tharanga, while not keeping him company and indulging in a more carefree approach he was at least batting as if under orders. This was to give the strike to Dilshan as often as possible while acting as a spectator at the non-striker's end.
Since he has resumed batting orthodoxy Dilshan has taken over the role once filled by Sanath Jayasuriya, becoming more than an adequate replacement. His bowling has also improved and his three wickets in the Bangladesh innings ensured they were always under pressure.
Little wonder that he told the media conference how he is enjoying his batting at present. He went through a lean patch, coming out of it with some good scores to add to his current CV. The only reason he didn't get a century was in turning the bat too soon, gave a leading edge to be caught and bowled by Shakib Al Hasan.
He dictated the start of the innings and was helped by the Bangladesh bowlers battling to find length and direction as well, making it easier to pick off a series of what were regulation deliveries.
As the new convener of selectors Aravinda de Silva looked out on the floodlit scene and a game being played under lights that have drawn criticism from players and officials, Sri Lanka added a bonus point to their haul when they dismissed the weakest of the four Asian Test nations by 126 runs after dismissing them for 186 in 40.2 overs.
It is pretty ordinary at time for as with their game against India two nights earlier, Bangladesh provided little more than a practice outing for the hosts.
From the time Kumar Sangakkara won the toss and elected to bat first on a good ODI surface, the bogeys of past years when low scores and teams winning the toss and batting second to win games has passed.
Largely it was man on the match Dilshan’s game. An innings of 71 of 51 balls and a run rate in excess of 139 set the tone of a performance where the Sri Lanka innings was decidedly underdone at the end. A final scoreline of 312 for four was 90 rush short of what it should have been. With the final 10 overs offering little in the way of entertaining batting, Sri Lanka might feel pleased with their effort but it left you wondering why the pedestrian pace.
No one can blame Tharanga for getting in some practice, as did Sangakkara and Mahela Jayawardene whose sublime innings of 43 was full of gemlike strokes with exquisite drives through the covers and the well-placed cut. It was elegance and typically stylish.
At least the Bangladesh bowling gave Chamara Kapugedara a chance to get in an innings of note to boost his average, scoring an undefeated 37. Mind you, a blind man on a crutch would score runs against this Bangladesh bowling.
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