PALLEKELE  - Bangladesh scampered to a series-levelling win against Sri Lanka in the third and final ODI, in Pallekele, winning by three wickets in a rain-hit encounter. They were helped along by Nasir Hossain's composed 33 off 27 balls late in the chase, the visitors showing nerves as they neared the victory - their first in 15 completed games against Sri Lanka in Sri Lanka.

The hosts didn't build appropriately on an excellent start, ending up at 302 for 9 in their 50 overs when they looked on course for much more. Bangladesh began their innings in an equally good manner, with M Ashraful and Anamul Haque adding 77 runs for the first wicket. But rain delayed the chase by more than two hours, with the score at 78 for 1 in 13.4 overs. As play restarted at 10.20pm local time, as per Duckworth-Lewis calculations, the visitors needed to score another 105 runs to win in the next 13.2 overs, and they did.

Earlier, Tillakaratne Dilshan's fourth century in Pallekele kept Sri Lanka intact for most of the innings after the shuffled middle-order squandered a good start. Left-arm spinner Abdur Razzak led the way to bring Bangladesh back into the hunt by cutting out boundaries and picking up late wickets. The home side managed an imposing 302 for 9 in 50 overs, but not without struggle.

Razzak became the first Bangladeshi bowler to get 200 ODI wickets, also completing his fourth five-wicket haul, when he took the wicket of Sachithra Senanayake in the final over of the innings. Offspinner Sohag Gazi and Mahmudullah also played roles in bringing scoring breaks when Sri Lanka were poised to completely run away with the momentum. But all three of them gave away a minimum of 50 runs in each of their ten overs, proof that the wicket was a featherbed for the batsmen to start driving from the onset.

Dilshan did just that, starting off his innings with two boundaries off Ziaur Rahman in the second over of the match. His younger opening partner Kusal Perera hammered a six to begin proceedings from the other end before going after Shahadat Hossain with three boundaries in the early stages. Perera, having struck five fours and a six, got out for 56 off 66 balls. It was his maiden ODI fifty, but he looks far more comfortable in the middle as he continued to remind viewers of Sanath Jayasuriya with some of his shots.

Mahmudullah and Razzak applied the break at that point, as Kumar Sangakkara and Dilshan hardly found a boundary. It was smart of captain Mushfiqur Rahim to fill in those dull overs by bringing back Ziaur and Shahadat, who gave away the odd boundary but bowled with far more confidence than in the first Powerplay.

Sangakkara fell for 48 in the 36th over, the first time on tour that Bangladesh managed to dismiss him for under 50. Sri Lanka then gave Thisara Perera the promotion with the hope that the left-hander can capitalise on the excellent position he walked into, at 203 for 2.

But Razzak was accurate enough as Thisara swung across the line two overs later. It was the start of the collapse as Angelo Mathews, Jeevan Mendis and Dinesh Chandimal fell in the next seven overs. All three fell in attempts to force the pace, the Bangladeshi bowlers picking up wickets due to the dot balls they had accumulated.

Gazi had slipped in a maiden in the 43rd over, the only one of the ODI series by a Bangladeshi bowler while Razzak, and in parts Shahadat and Ziaur continued to keep the Sri Lankan batsman out of the hitting zone.

Finally, the home supporters had something to cheer about when Dilshan cut loose after reaching his century. It was his 16th ODI hundred, second in the series and fourth at this venue where he has invariably reached a century after crossing the 50-mark.

Dilshan, however, was struck on the stomach in an attempt to play the scoop shot. He fell for 125 off 128 balls with 12 fours. Lahiru Thirimanne, batting at No. 8, scrapped up enough runs to add 28 with Nuwan Kulasekera. Razzak broke that stand and had Senanayake bowled the next ball to bring up his five-for. But he couldn't restrict the hosts in the final over as he gave away 11 runs, which took Sri Lanka past the 300-mark.

     scoreboard

SRI LANKA:

K Perera c Nasir b Mahmudullah    56

T Dilshan c Nasir b Shahadat    125

K Sangakkara c Anamul b Razzak    48

T Perera b Razzak    4

A Mathews st Rahim b Razzak    6

J Mendis b Gazi    5

D Chandimal b Rahman    0

L Thirimanne not out    25

N Kulasekara lbw b Razzak    11

S Senanayake b Razzak    0

L Malinga not out    5

EXTRAS: (lb2, nb1, w14)    17

TOTAL: (9 wkts; 50 overs)    302

FOW: 1-116, 2-203, 3-212, 4-228, 5-233, 6-238, 7-263, 8-291, 9-291

BOWLING: Shahadat 10-0-71-1, Rahman 10-0-65-1, Gazi 10-1-52-1, Razzak 10-0-62-5, Mahmudullah 10-0-50-1

BANGLADESH: (Target: 183 in 27 overs):

A Haque c Chandimal b Mathews    40

M Ashraful lbw b Senanayake    29

J Islam c Sangakkara b Mathews    26

Mushfiqur Rahim run out    9

Nasir Hossain not out    33

M Mahmudullah lbw b Senanayake    6

M Haque c Sangakkara b Malinga    11

Ziaur Rahman c T Perera b Malinga    0

Sohag Gazi not out    4

EXTRAS: (b4, lb13, w9)    26

TOTAL: (7 wkts; 26 overs)    184

FOW: 1-77, 2-97, 3-119, 4-126, 5-144, 6-166, 7-166

BOWLING: Kulasekara 4-1-29-0, Malinga 6-0-29-2, Mathews 5-0-39-2,  Senanayake 6-0-26-2, T Perera 5-0-44-0

TOSS: Sri Lanka

UMPIRES: N Llong (Eng), R Palliyaguruge