Bangladesh save Test but SL take series
Sri Lanka 587 (Sangakkara 319, Shakib 5-148) and 305 for 4 dec (Sangakkara 105, Chandimal 100*) drew with Bangladesh 271 for 3 (Haque 100*, Perera 2-55) and 426 (Rahman 106, Kayes 115)
Scorecard and ball-by-ball details
Mominul Haque had arrived at the fifth day short of runs and confidence, but, showcasing remarkable courage and a striking understanding of the dynamics of Test-match momentum, he led Bangladesh to safety with a third Test hundred in his 12th innings. Charged with simply surviving, Mominul chose to press Sri Lanka instead.Having hit 424 runs earlier in the match, Kumar Sangakkara said positivity at the crease had been the hallmarks of his success. Perhaps Mominul had taken note.
Bangladesh were three down when Mominul scored the run that sent him to three figures, after the hosts had begun the day with all ten wickets in tact. With less than an hour of scheduled play remaining, Angelo Mathews agreed to cut Sri Lanka's losses, and hand Bangladesh their second consecutive draw in Chittagong against a top-eight team. The hosts will be pleased that despite Sangakkara's deluge, they had unearthed considerable spirit after their putrid display in Dhaka.
The afternoon session became the key to Bangladesh's resistance after two wickets had fallen in the morning, and Mominul managed that period sagely, to bat through. Cutting the wide balls, and consistently positive outside the off stump, he leant heavily on hand-eye coordination for survival, and prompted more defensive fields from Sri Lanka in the process. By the end of the session, this had in turn inspired yet more aggression in Mominul. Sri Lanka began the session full of spring and enthusiasm and finished it relatively flat. Seven wickets in the final two hours is a difficult proposition against any opposition.
Having scored 10 from his first 39 balls, Mominul worked up an appetite for scoring with consecutive boundaries off Ajantha Mendis, and cut, swept and drove with a freedom that still gave heed to the match situation, because his judgement was razor-sharp. A fluid cover drive that threaded the packed offside field brought him his first fifty of the series, and at tea, his most recent 61 runs had come in 73 deliveries.
After tea his advance was more measured. He would dart occasionally at the slow bowlers, often driving, sometimes making room to hit through off, but largely, he attacked only the poor balls. Dilruwan Perera and Suranga Lakmal served up few of those, but Ajantha Mendis and Nuwan Pradeep gave away plenty. Part-time legspinner Kithuruwan Vithanage had begun the day strongly, but his accuracy tailed off as the day wore on, and perhaps Sri Lanka erred in keeping him on too long. Most of Mominul's 11 boundaries came from errors in length, but the batsman also collected singles into the outfield efficiently, and Shakib-Al-Hasan, his partner for most of the innings, did the same.
The period when Mominul approached his ton was the most tense of his innings. Pradeep found the consistent line outside off stump that had evaded him for most of the match, and beat both his edges in two gripping overs. Though clearly nervous, the batsman collected himself enough to score when Pradeep strayed slightly. The single off his hips towards deep square leg prompted a far more muted celebration than the other Bangladesh centurions had produced, and also marked the end of the match.
Shakib benefited from Mominul's approach mining gaps in the field that had not been present for previous batsmen, but he too played a vital role as the senior batsman. He edged two past the slips soon after arriving at the crease, but hit a confident boundary through point before tea, by which time he seemed more secure. In the final session, he was grooved into the beat of singles and twos, breaking rhythm only to step down the pitch and hammer Vithanage past mid-on, twice.
Pradeep had improved since the first innings, but he still sprayed the ball both wide of off stump and too straight, in the first two sessions. Mendis could not find a consistent length, and threatened only rarely. Perera's pinpoint offspin built significant pressure, and brought him two wickets, while Lakmal was again earnest and economical on a surface that did not assist him. Rangana Herath's experience was missed.
Throughout the last two sessions, Mathews set creative fields - the kind that had eluded him on the final day in Sharjah, three weeks ago - but with two frontline bowlers having off days, there was not enough pressure to reap rewards. Lakmal often had 8-2 offside fields, with no one on the fence. Perera had as many as four men around the bat, and a short leg and leg slip routinely in place for the right-handers. As Sri Lanka sat on their pile of runs, Mathews saw no risk in delaying deployments on the fence.
Earlier, Bangladesh's openers had survived sensibly in the first hour, but allowed Sri Lanka a sniff by getting out in the 40 minutes before lunch. Vithanage proved an inspired choice of bowler in the second hour, when Tamim was a victim of his own impatience, allowing the ball through to his stumps as he attempted an aggressive stroke away from the body, against the turn. Shamsur Rahman's leaky technique allowed Perera to burst through between bat and pad and onto the stumps.
Andrew Fidel Fernando is ESPNcricinfo's Sri Lanka correspondent. He tweets here