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The Report by Andrew Fidel Fernando in Chittagong
February 7, 2014
Bangladesh 426 and 12 for 0 need 455 runs to beat Sri Lanka 587 and 305 for 4 dec (Sangakkara 105, Chandimal 100*)
Scorecard and ball-by-ball details
Kumar Sangakkara eased, almost casually, to a 35th career hundred in a Test match already heaving with his runs, completing a feat only Graham Gooch had achieved before him. A whip over the midwicket ropes took him over 100 in almost the same fashion he had brought up his triple century in the first innings, and raised his match-tally to 424 - the third highest in Tests. Thanks in large part to his epic labours, Sri Lanka have almost certainly made themselves safe in the Test, with one full day remaining to chase a 2-0 result.
A resurgent Dinesh Chandimal registered a measured ton of his own, to stretch Sri Lanka's advantage on the fourth afternoon and evening. The declaration, at 305 for 4, came upon his entry to triple figures, leaving Bangladesh with one day and 25 minutes to bat out. They went to stumps unscathed after eight tense overs, 455 runs adrift of the visitors.
Sangakkara's numbers against Bangladesh have now moved into a superhuman realm. In his last eight innings against them, he has hit 994 runs, never failing in that stretch to cross 50. In fact, only six times in 21 trips to the crease against Bangladesh, has Sangakkara failed to notch a half-century. An average of 95.57 is unsurprisingly his highest against any team.
On this occasion, Bangladesh can blame their torment on a fielding error. On 36, Sangakkara attempted to blast over the deep midwicket rope, but mis-hit a ball from Shakib Al Hasan to Nasir Hossain, who only had to run a few metres to his left. Shakib had built significant pressure alongside Mahmudullah to provoke the stroke and, upon seeing the catch grassed, he scratched his head in extreme frustration, holding back fury.
Sangakkara's progress took an irritatingly familiar form for Bangladesh, who employed various fields against him but could not stem the effortless flow of runs. With Sri Lanka having lost three relatively cheap wickets, Sangakkara only pursued the poor balls with aggression - sliding back to slam the short deliveries with particular disdain. Mostly, he busied himself with strike rotation, giving constant nuggets of advice to Chandimal, who was fighting for form. It wasn't until he neared his ton that he began to assert himself. Until then, he had collected his runs almost on the sly.
Chandimal was similarly averse to belligerence, and just as efficient at risk-free accumulation. He hit only four fours in nearly three hours at the crease, yet scored his runs at a strike rate of 63. Shakib had troubled him in doses throughout the innings, spinning some past his blade and striking him on the pad, but the grit that had been absent from his game returned. His 145-run stand with Sangakkara was the flesh of Sri Lanka's second innings, after the two had been joined at 78 for 3.
Perhaps aware Chandimal was short of some self-confidence ahead of two months of less-favoured limited-overs cricket, Angelo Mathews delayed the declaration until the batsman had reached his third Test century - all of which have come against Bangladesh. Chandimal may now look with more enthusiasm at the task of leading his team in the World Twenty20 in six weeks.
The hosts' only breakthrough in the middle-session had been Mahela Jayawardene's wicket for 11. Shakib pitched one on off and got it to straighten, striking Jayawardene on the front pad in front of middle. Jayawardene felt the ball had not turned sharply enough to hit leg stump, but replays did not offer a conclusive answer. Again the most aggressive among the hosts' spinners, Shakib would have felt he bowled better than figures of 1 for 80 suggest.
The morning session had belonged to Mahmudullah, however, even after he had hit the fourth ball of the day straight to short leg, when his side would have hoped to whittle their first-innings deficit down to 150. After the Sri Lanka openers had begun tentatively against Al-Amin Hossain, who delivered a spell of seaming deliveries that generated surprising bounce, Mahmudullah arrived to dismiss both of them. Dimuth Karunaratne ended a frustrating series by edging a cut shot to slip, and Silva underestimated the turn Mahmudullah would generate with one of his few aggressive balls of the day.
Suranga Lakmal also got the ball moving in the afternoon, and although Shamsur Rahman followed him with his hands more than any batting coach would advise, the opener managed to account for the movement through hand-eye co-ordination. Shamsur and Tamim Iqbal survived close shouts before stumps were drawn, with the team score on 12.
Andrew Fidel Fernando is ESPNcricinfo's Sri Lanka correspondent. He tweets hereFeeds: Andrew Fidel Fernando
© ESPN Sports Media Ltd.
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