With the Sher-e-Bangla stadium buzzing, mainly with the locals coming out in their support, Misbah-ul-Haq decided to take first strike on Saturday. It was a repeat of Malinga’s fifer and Thirimanne’s century that paved a smooth path for Sri Lanka to the Asia Cup title.
Two boundaries through the off by Sharjeel Khan were enough to provoke Malinga. He returned to his deceptive self and let the ball thud towards the left-handed batsman’s pads, who could only offer mid-on a catch. Malinga then lured Ahmed Shehzad with a ball shaping away in his next over, nicked to ‘keeper Kumar Sangakkara. The slinga was not done yet, a similar delivery found Mohammad Hafeez’s outside-edge.
Misbah (65) and Fawad Alam (114) offered resistance. When Malinga was brought back, Misbah attempted to hit out, but holed out. Umar Akmal (59) entertained the crowd before falling to Malinga.
Thirimanne fought off a wily spell from Saeed Ajmal and punished loose bowling from the rest of the bowling attack. It is more textbook stuff. There was not a single six, but wide balls were slapped over point. Mahela Jayawardene (75) offered him support.
It was Thirimanne’s night. He was dropped by Akmal off Afridi. Frustration boiled over as Umar Gul was involved in an altercation with Thirimanne. But the Lankan fought on to complete his third ODI century.