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Murali to Sri Lanka's rescue

MUTTIAH Muralitharan belted 33 not out off 16 balls yesterday to help Sri Lanka recover from 5-6 to beat Bangladesh by two wickets and win the final of a tri-nation limited-overs series. The legspinner smashed four boundaries and two sixes to steer the Sri Lankans to 153-8 with 11 balls remaining after Bangladesh was all out for 152 at Sher-e-Bangla National Stadium.

Sri Lankan No. 3 Kumar Sangakkara top-scored in the match with 59 after Bangladesh opening bowler Nazmul Hossain took three wickets and first-change Shakib Al Hasan took two to leave the visitors at 5-6 by the eighth over. But Sangakkara's 63-run stand with Jehan Mubarak (16) and Muralitharan's unbeaten partnership of 39 with Farveez Maharoof (38 not out) gave Sri Lanka victory in a tournament that also included Zimbabwe.

Earlier, Sri Lanka's Nuwan Kulasekara and Ajantha Mendis claimed three wickets each to bowl out Bangladesh after it was sent in to bat. The hosts looked at risk of a two-figure score when they slumped to 54-5, but Raqibal Hasan's unbeaten 43 provided the basis for decent sixth and seventh-wicket partnerships that gave the Bangladesh bowlers something to defend.

Junaid Siddique (1) was the first dismissal as he poked forward to a delivery from Kulasekara but got a thick outside edge for wicketkeeper Sangakkara to take a one-handed catch in front of first slip.

Kulasekara also dismissed Tamim Iqbal for 18 and Rahim for 4 as the hosts struggled against Sri Lanka's tight bowling. Mendis removed Naeem Islam for 21, and Mashrafe bin Mortaza and Rubel Hossain without scoring. Hasan and Mahmudullah Riyad tried to rebuild the innings after the collapse, moving the score to 98 before Riyad was bowled by Muralitharan for 26, who then had Nazmul Hossain out lbw for 0.

Sri Lanka's innings started badly. Opener Sanath Jayasuriya was run out for 0 off a direct throw by Al Hasan off the first ball. Opener Upul Tharanga was caught for 2 by wicketkeeper Mushfiqur Rahim off Nazmul Hossain, and the visitors quickly lost captain Mahela Jayawardene for 0, Chamara Kapugedara for 1 and Thilan Thushara for 1.

Sangakkara steadied the innings with Mubarak, who was run out by a direct hit from Mohammad Ashraful, and then paired with Ferveez Maharoof before being caught and bowled by Al Hasan to leave Sri Lanka on 114-7.


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