In-form Sri Lanka sailed into the summit clash of the Asia Cup cricket tournament with a resounding 129-run bonus point win over minnows Afghanistan on Monday
Dhaka: Four-time champions Sri Lanka thumped newcomers Afghanistan by 129 runs to reach the final of the Asia Cup in Dhaka on Monday.
The Islanders scored a challenging 253-6 with in-form Kumar Sangakkara hitting a solid 76 before they bowled their rivals out for a paltry 124 in 38.4 overs.
Sri Lanka won all their three matches to gain 12 points, leaving them to play a meaningless last game against hosts Bangladesh on Thursday before having a tilt at the title.
Afghanistan, who gave a good account of themselves by beating Bangladesh by 32 runs in their second match, found Sri Lanka's pace-cum spin attack too hot to handle and only captain Mohammad Nabi (37), Asghar Stanikzai (27) and Noor Ali Zadran (21) were among the runs.
Nabi hit a six and three boundaries off 43 balls before he fell leg-before to spinner Chaturanga de Silva in the 33rd over.
Sri Lankan cricketer Kumar Sangakkara (R) celebrates with teammates after winning the seventh match of the Asia Cup one-day cricket tournament between Afghanistan and Sri Lanka at the Sher-e-Bangla National Cricket Stadium in Dhaka on Monday. Pic/AFP
Mystery spinner Ajantha Mendis took 3-11 in his seven overs while Thisara Perera chipped in with 3-29 in his full quota of ten overs.
Paceman Suranga Lakmal (2-30) and left-armer de Silva fetched 2-29 to complete the rout.
Only Nabi and Najibullah Zadran (11) could stay longer to put 48 runs for the sixth wicket before Afghanistan lost their last five wickets for a mere three runs.
Sri Lankan captain Angelo Mathews said it was nice to qualify for the final.
"It was a very important game for us because we had to book our place in the final,"said Mathews. "Afghanistan have a very good bowling attack and our batsmen found it hard on a slow pitch."
Nabi admitted his team was short on quality.
"We bowled well in the first 35 overs and Sangakkara played very well," said Nabi. "We started well with the bat, but then Mendis and Malinga bowled brilliantly."
Earlier, Sangakkara hit six fours and a six off 102 balls to hold the innings together when the batsmen faltered after Mathews won the toss and decided to bat.
Sangakkara came to the crease after opener Lahiru Thirimanne had gone for five in the sixth over, bowled by paceman Shapoor Zadran.
Fellow opener Kusal Perera scored a 49-ball 33 with four boundaries and a six, while Mahela Jayawardene made 14. But both fell to medium pacer Mirwais Ashraf, who finished with 2-29 in eight overs, to leave Sri Lanka struggling on 83-3.
Sangakkara, fresh from a match-winning hundred against India, added 74 for the fourth wicket with Dinesh Chandimal (26) to put his team on firmer ground.
Sangakkara was run out in the 38th over with Sri Lanka on 158-5, as Afghanistan -- buoyed by their upset win over Bangladesh -- kept the pressure on.
But Mathews provided a late flurry with an unbeaten 45 off 41 balls, adding an unbeaten 69 with Thisara Perera (19 not out) to get his team past the 250 mark.
Afghanistan had brought back Noor Ali and Dawlat Zadran for Karim Sadiq and Hamid Hassan from the line-up, which upset Bangladesh on Saturday, but they failed to keep the momentum.
Pakistan meet hosts Bangladesh on Tuesday and need to win to meet Sri Lanka in Saturday's final.
Defending champions Pakistan have won two of their three matches, beating Afghanistan and India and going down to Sri Lanka.
K. Perera b Ashraf 33
L. Thirimanne b Shapoor 5
K. Sangakkara run out 76
M. Jayawardene c Nabi b Ashraf 14
D. Chandimal b Hotak 26
A. Mathews not out 45
P. de Silva c Ashraf b Dawlat 17
T. Perera not out 19
Extras: (lb6, nb6, w6) 18
Total (for six wkts; 50 overs) 253
Fall of wickets: 1-14 (Thirimanne), 2-50 (Perera), 3-83 (Jayawardene), 4-157 (Chandimal), 5-158 (Sangakkara), 6-184 (Silva)
Bowling: Najibullah 3-0-9-0, Shapoor 9-1-46-1 (3w), Dawlat 9.2-0-60-1 (w1, nb6), Ashraf 8-1-29-2, Nabi 6.4-1-23-0, Hotak 7-1-43-1 (1w), Shinwari 4-0-20-0, Mangal 3-0-17-0 (1w)
Mohammad Shahzad b Lakmal 7
Noor Ali Zadran c de Silva b Mendis 21
Asghar Stanikzai b Thisara 27
Nawroz Mangal c Sangakkara b Thisara 4
Samiullah Shinwari c Thirimanne b Lakmal 6
Mohammad Nabi lbw de Silva 37
Najibullah Zadran c Mathews b Perera 11
Mirwais Ashraf c Thisara b de Silva 1
Hamza Hotak lbw b Mendis 1
Dawlat Zadran b Mendis 0
Shapoor Zadran not out 0
Extras: (lb2, w7) 9
Total: (all out; 38.4 overs) 124
Fall of wickets: 1-8 (Shahzad), 2-53 (Stanikzai), 3-59 (Noor), 4-61 (Mangal), 5-73 (Shinwari), 6-121 (Najibullah), 7-121 (Nabi), 8-122 (Hotak), 9-124 (Dawlat)
Bowling: Malinga 5-0-23-0 (6w), Lakmal 7-2-30-2, Thisara 10-2-29-3, de Silva 9.4-1-29-2, Mendis 7-2-11-3 (1w)
Result: Sri Lanka won by 129 runs
Toss: Sri Lanka
Umpires: Bruce Oxenford (AUS) and Johan Cloete (RSA)
Tv umpire: Anisur Rahman (BAN)
Match referee: Chris Broad (ENG)
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