Bangladesh men’s cricket team defended their South Asian Games title in style, cruising to a seven-wicket victory over Sri Lanka in the final at the Tribhuvan University Ground yesterday.
Skipper Nazmul Hossain Shanto anchored the innings with an unbeaten 35 as Bangladesh chased down a modest victory target of 123 with 11 balls to spare.
Shanto clenched his fist as he cut Shammu Ashan through the covers for the winning boundary, fittingly scoring the winning runs after having led the team from the front, scoring the tournament’s highest 159 runs in three matches.
There was no over-the-top celebration from the Bangladesh team, who were the defending champions and favourites to win this title, having come with a strong side featuring a number of national team players.
“We rested a few players for this game as we were playing four games on the trot. This helped us because they [Sri Lanka] didn’t play against these players yesterday, “ Shanto said after the match. “It is a good feeling to win gold. We came here with this target and I’m glad we achieved it.”
Earlier after winning the toss, Bangladesh bowled the islanders out for 122 runs in 20 overs, with right-arm pacer Hasan Mahmud taking three wickets and leg-spinner Tanvir Hasan taking two for 28. Three of the Sri Lankan batsmen were run out including opener Pathum Nissanka (24), who together with Nishan Madushka (16), had given the Lankans a brisk start by reaching 33 runs in four overs. But three wickets in the next two overs derailed Sri Lanka’s innings and they never recovered from those blows.
The chase was comfortable as Bangladesh were ahead of the eight-ball right from the start, with Saif Hassan (33) and Soumya Sarkar (27) giving the team a watchful start, reaching 44 in 7.5 overs. Soumya fell to an excellent catch and 39 runs later, Saif got dismissed through a run-out, but there was hardly any worries at any stage of the chase.
It was a sweet revenge for Bangladesh, who had lost by nine wickets against the same opposition the day before in their last round-robin match.
Cricket was first included in the SA Games roster in the 2010 edition in Dhaka where the hosts had won the title. The sport was discarded from the roster in the following edition in India before making a return this time around.
The men’s effort made it a clean sweep for Bangladesh in cricket, with women winning the title on Sunday, beating Sri Lanka by two runs in a nail-biting finish.