Sri Lanka v Bangladesh, 1st Test, Colombo September 14, 2005

Atapattu defends Bangladesh's Test status


Habibul Bashar has plenty to worry about, but has support from Marvan Atapattu © Getty Images

Marvan Atapattu, the Sri Lankan captain, refused to join calls for Bangladesh to be stripped of Test status despite the thrashing his team handed out at Colombo."True, it was a two-and-a-half-day match, but we do not want to insult the opposition and deprive them of competing with the big boys," Atapattu said. Bangladesh were beaten by an innings and 96 runs in the opening Test of the two-match series.

Trailing by 182 runs, Bangladesh were shot out for 86, their lowest-ever total, in the second innings to suffer their 34th defeat in 39 matches since gaining Test status in 2000. The loss was their 23rd by an innings margin. Bangladesh's previous lowest total was 87 against the West Indies at Dhaka in 2002. They have won just one Test, against a depleted Zimbabwean side at home early this year.

Atapattu said Bangladesh, the lowest-ranked team in international cricket, needed to be tolerated and allowed to play against the best sides. "We have also suffered similar defeats in our early years," Atapattu said. Sri Lanka were granted Test status in 1981 but gradually forged into a powerful Test side and won the one-day World Cup 1996.

"We honestly did not think the win would come so easily after the way they batted and reached 155 for two after lunch on the first day. Then, one bad shot changed everything and allowed us to come back," Atapattu said. He was referring to the Bangladeshi collapse in the first innings following an irresponsible shot by Mohammad Ashraful, who was caught in the deep while attempting a big hit off spinner Rangana Herath. Bangladesh lost their last eight wickets for 33 runs to slump to 188 all out.

Muttiah Muralitharan triggered the Bangladesh collapse in the second innings, finishing with 6-18 off 10.4 overs. "It was a spinner-friendly track," Muralitharan said after his 47th haul of five or more wickets in an innings in 94 Tests. "The pitch was two paced, with some deliveries keeping low. There was also plenty of spin and bounce. I did not bowl particularly well in the first innings, but got my rhythm back in the second."

Dav Whatmore, Bangladesh's coach, was disappointed with his team's batting performance on the third morning which saw the tourists lose seven wickets for 50 runs in less than 19 overs after resuming at 36-3. "I am upset with the lack of resistance," he said. "Sri Lanka were going to win the match and there is no question about that. I am disappointed that we did not fight hard to delay the inevitable."