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March 3, 2006
Sri Lanka wasted no time in wrapping up a comprehensive victory in Chittagong, responding to an early setback with an authoritative run chase. Michael Vandort (64 not out) and Kumar Sangakkara (46) scored the bulk of the runs and Mahela Jayawardene (26 not out), Sri Lanka's new captain punched the winning runs through the covers off the last ball before lunch.
Sri Lanka, starting the day on 25 without loss, stumbled early as Upul Tharanga, who had looked so solid the previous evening, edged into the slips. However, Bangladeshi hopes of a dramatic collapse and a historic last-gasp victory flickered briefly as Sangakkara, in prime form during recent weeks, swaggered out of the blocks and asserted complete command.
Vandort, desperate to impress having just been recalled after a three-and-a-half year absence (despite scoring 140 in his last Test, albeit against a much weaker outfit than this team), started more awkwardly, looking uncomfortable against a barrage of short pitchers from the increasingly impressive Shahadat Hossain. But he battled it out, slowly growing in confidence.
It soon became apparent that Sangakkara might be eyeing lunch at the team hotel and an early bus to Bogra, the venue for the second Test, as he tucked into the spinners, using his feet and crashing over the top. But within one boundary of his second fifty he poked a return catch back to Enamul Haque off his leading edge, leaving Sri Lanka 115 for 2.
Jayawardene, too, shared a similar sense of urgency and was soon finding the boundary, using his feet expertly. Vandort started to find his timing and began driving powerfully through the covers. Eventually, Habibul Bashar threw in the towel and tossed the ball to his part-timers. Jayawardene and Vandort crossed the finish line in a flash.
"Bangladesh pushed us hard here and forced the team to show a lot of character in order to win," said Jayawardene afterwards. "Thilan (Samaraweera) and Farveez (Maharoof) shared an important stand in our first innings and then we bowled really well in the second innings, showing a great deal of patience."
Jayawardene also saluted Muttiah Muralitharan, who narrowly missed out on another Man-of-the -Match award - won by Mohammad Ashraful for his superb first-innings hundred - for his match haul of 9 for 141 but reached yet another landmark as he claimed his 1000th international wicket.
"Murali was brilliant once again and all the guys in the team are really happy for him and proud that he has achieved such a great achievement - in fact, everyone in Sri Lanka will also be proud. Murali, throughout his career, has been a great ambassador for the game and for Sri Lanka. He is a very humble man but a fierce competitor who always plays for the team."
Both teams now will be able to rest for three days before the start of the second Test in Bogra next Tuesday.
Upul Tharanga c Nafees b Rasel 19 (25 for 1)
Edged swinging delivery to second slip
Kumar Sangakkara c & b Haque 46 (115 for 2)
Leading edge and fine diving catch
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