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June 25, 2007
Michael Vandort played his last Test over a year ago, against England in June 2006, and it could have stayed that way had Upul Tharanga not broken a bone in his foot in the build-up to the first Test against Bangladesh. Seeing his chance, Vandort cashed in and was unbeaten on 87 at the end of the first day.
"To a certain extent I was surprised by my recall," said Vandort after the day's play. "When I heard that Upul got injured, I knew I might get a recall. From that time I was focusing and trying to the maximum."
After making his Test debut in September 2001, Vandort had played in only six Tests spread over seven years and acknowledged the need to be consistent in domestic cricket and for Sri Lanka A to secure a place in the national team.
"My average in club cricket and the A team can get better. Even if I get a hundred tomorrow I don't think I am sure of a place. With big names like Sanath [Jayasuriya], Marvan [Atapattu] and [Kumar] Sangakkara who have done a tremendous job for the country for a long time, it is difficult for players like me to break into the team. I had a fair run and I am happy about it. I have not given up; I've kept on working hard at my game."
Vandort opened the innings with Malinda Warnapura but after Sri Lanka were reduced to 14 for 2, he and Mahela Jayawardene added 170 runs for the third wicket before Jayawardene retired with cramps. Vandort was unbeaten at stumps, with Sri Lanka leading by 138 runs with seven wickets in hand.
"The heat is unbearable," said Vandort. "We are used to the conditions although Mahela is suffering from cramps. The situation is tough but we cannot complain. This is the first time I have batted with Mahela for a long period. It was fun batting with him with all his experience and all the feedback he gives."
Sri Lanka's firm grip on the game, however, had been established earlier in the day when Muttiah Muralitharan took 5 for 15 and triggered Bangladesh's collapse for 89, their third-lowest Test score.
"It was a tough day," said Shaun Williams, the Bangladesh coach. "We need to learn from our mistakes. Maybe the boys were a little bit nervous to start the series. We just didn't play well. As a positive, Shahadat [Hossain] bowled very well in his first spell. That was one positive to come out of the day.
"We need to find the right tempo. In one-day cricket we play a lot of shots and in Tests we tend to be a little bit conservative in the way we play. We need to find the correct mixture between attack and defence."
© ESPN Sports Media Ltd.
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