Sangakkara 319 sets Bangladesh big test
Bangladesh 86 for 1 (Shamsur 45*, Imrul 36*) trail Sri Lanka 587 (Sangakkara 319, Shakib 5-148) by 501 runs
Scorecard and ball-by-ball details
Having sown 14 years of indefatiguable work ethic and uncompromising self-improvement into the game, Kumar Sangakkara harvested another crop of statistical triumphs in Chittagong, where he became the third Sri Lanka batsman to hit a triple-hundred. His 319 in a team total of 587 has almost put an upset, series-leveling victory beyond Bangladesh, spirited though the hosts have been in their innings so far. Bangladesh lost Tamim Iqbal for a duck, but wiped 86 off Sri Lanka's lead by stumps, fortuitously having suffered no further loss.
En route to his triple, Sangakkara had become the fastest man to 11,000 Test runs, eclipsing Brian Lara's previous record by five innings. In the morning session, he had also matched Lara's double-hundred count of nine, to sit at second equal on the list, behind only Don Bradman. Already Bangladesh's most brutal tormentor with the bat, Sangakkara's score was also the highest ever against them, easily surpassing Ramnaresh Sarwan's 261.
Shakib Al Hasan was Bangladesh's best bowler of the day, completing an 11th career five-wicket haul. But though his aggression brought rewards, he also gave away 148 runs at 4.35. Sohag Gazi may never want to look at the scorecard again, having been hit for 181 for his one wicket.
At 286, late in the second session, with a no. 11 at the other end, Sangakkara leapt beyond his own previous best, flew through the 290s and into the record books in three calculated, consecutive strikes. Shakib pitched the third ball of his 33rd over outside leg stump, which Sanga darted at, then powered it over midwicket for four. He ran at the next ball as well, launching it over long on. Almost unable to stop himself from charging a third time, Sangakkara picked Shakib's leg-stump line early and walloped him again towards midwicket, this time all the way. His celebrations were muted, as they had been at each of the five milestones on his way.
He had pulled the spinners magnificently on the first day, but it was his driving that set him apart on day two. The Bangladesh slow-bowlers sought to flight the ball more on day two, and though this proved successful against other Sri Lanka batsmen, they could not impose themselves on Sangakkara, who flitted swiftly about in his crease with intractable confidence.
Often he skated forward to meet the ball, preferring to whip it through midwicket, which was routinely left vacant, perhaps in fear of yesterday's pull. The unprotected boundaries at deep cover and long on did not evade his attention either. When he sought to hit the ball all the way, Sangakkara launched it in the arc between long off and midwicket. He had trouble with his sweep in the previous series against Pakistan, and save for the balls down the leg side that he paddled fine, the stroke was largely absent for his biggest innings.
Sangakkara has faced far more menacing attacks than this spin-heavy Bangladesh unit, but the pitch on which he made his triple was hardly a batsman's paradise. The ball stayed consistently low, with many pitching on a length and passing no higher than shin-height. No other batsman hit a hundred and only Mahela Jayawardene crossed 50.
Sangakkara made his last 116 runs in the company of Nos.9, 10 and 11, after Sri Lanka lost their last recognised batsman midway through the first session. Not long into the day, Bangladesh effectively gave up hope on dismissing him, placing men in the deep when he was on strike, in order to tempt a single that would expose his partner. For the most part, Sangakkara resisted the easy runs, and deigned to advance through boundaries.
Ajantha Mendis provided stauncher support than anticipated, even as the senior batsman shielded him against Shakib. Strong square of the wicket, but also unafraid to use his feet and hit over the top, Mendis helped energise Sri Lanka as the opposition bowling worsened from stale to insipid. Mendis' checked drive to send a Gazi delivery wide of mid off, all along the ground for four, illustrated the ease with which even he progressed. Of the 171 balls the pair faced in their 100-run stand, Sangakkara faced 104, but Mendis had scored 47 at a strike rate exceeding 70 when he fell. He had survived an lbw shout that should perhaps have been given, when on 29.
Collectively, the attack bowled too many poor balls to build any semblance of pressure on Sangakkara, but they were also hampered by Abdul Razzak's continued absence, after he had sustained a hamstring strain on the first day. Perhaps even more damaging was the injury to the little finger Mushfiqur Rahim's left hand. He had borne a blow there during the first day, and did not take his place behind the stumps on Wednesday. A lacklustre Shamsur Rahman took the gloves, and conceded 16 byes in addition to missing a stumping.
Stand-in captain Tamim Iqbal appeared shocked when Suranga Lakmal's fourth delivery stayed low to clip his off stump, but given Sangakkara had faced no fewer than 60 such deliveries, surprise is a thin excuse for the high defensive shot he offered. After his departure, Shamsur Rahman batted with relative intelligence, investing time in which he could come to grips with the surface before venturing heftier blows. He was dropped by Jayawardene at slip on 28, when Dilruwan Perera drew an outside edge, but he was cautious and secure afterwards.
The same may not be said about Imrul Kayes, who upon his return to the XI, strove to advance mainly in risky boundaries. He attacked short balls from Nuwan Pradeep in particular, hitting two fours and a six behind square leg, and also skipped down the pitch to clobber Perera over mid on. An attempted repeat off Ajantha Mendis went high into the late evening sky, and was shelled by a disconsolate Pradeep, with around ten minutes remaining in the day's play. He went to stumps on 36, while Shamsur had made 45.
In the morning, Kithuruwan Vithanage had been characteristically positive during a 90-run stand with Sangakkara, playing from the crease to pick off the bad balls. He should have been stumped on 20, but he should not have been given out on 35. The Nasir Hossain delivery that struck his pad had first taken a big deflection from his bat.
Andrew Fidel Fernando is ESPNcricinfo's Sri Lanka correspondent. He tweets here