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Andrew Fidel Fernando in Chittagong
February 7, 2014
Kaushal Silva denied suggestions Sri Lanka's declaration on the fourth day had been too conservative, after captain Angelo Mathews had allowed the lead to stretch to 466 before asking Bangladesh to bat again. Sri Lanka had only eight overs at the hosts before stumps were drawn, with all ten Bangladesh wickets intact for the final day.
The final phase of Sri Lanka's innings was ostensibly extended to allow Dinesh Chandimal to reach his third Test hundred, after a long stretch of relatively meagre results. Chandimal has a busy two months ahead, as he readies to lead Sri Lanka at the World Twenty20, having rarely done well in limited-overs cricket in the subcontinent. However, Sri Lanka's chief aim was to bat Bangladesh out of the match, Silva said.
"We wanted to get at least 450 on the board and then we know that they are out of reach of our target and we can put pressure and attack more," he said. "We have to first set a good target and balance the overs we have to bowl and the runs they have to score. We bowled eight overs today, and we have 90 overs tomorrow. Depending on how quickly we bowl, we can bowl over 100 overs. I think that's a good target for us to get them bowled out."
Sri Lanka had faced a similar quandary three weeks ago, during a Test match in Sharjah, where they had established a strong first-innings lead. They had set Pakistan 302 runs from 59 overs in that match, and the opposition orchestrated the fastest fourth-innings chase in history to inflict a dispiriting loss. Silva said memories of that experience would not haunt them against a belligerent Bangladesh top order in Chittagong.
"Whatever has happened has happened, you can't get it back," he said. "You have to think positively. Those two sessions [in Sharjah] went against us, but that won't happen all the time. Cricket is such a game you never know what will happen. We don't think about what has happened we just concentrate on the particular moment and on ourselves."
A pitch that has grown more susceptible to spin is expected to aid Sri Lanka. Ajantha Mendis had found appreciable turn off the surface to take 6 for 99 in the first innings, while offspinner Dilruwan Perera took three wickets.
"The pitch is not like the first innings - it has started to spin more," Silva said. "I think it will definitely be difficult for the Bangladesh batsmen. We have to be more patient and consistent on our line and length, and set a field according to our bowlers, especially our spinners."
Mahela Jayawardene and Kumar Sangakkara have scored 782 runs between them in the series, in six combined innings. Silva said their influence on Sri Lanka stretched far beyond their batting returns.
"They are two legends of the game," he said. "They have been in the team for nearly two decades. It's a great experience for all the youngsters in the team. Sometimes it's fun because out of the field they just act as normal human beings. Their ideas on the field also really help us."
Andrew Fidel Fernando is ESPNcricinfo's Sri Lanka correspondent. He tweets hereFeeds: Andrew Fidel Fernando
© ESPN Sports Media Ltd.
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