Ton-heavy Sri Lanka eye crushing win
Mahela Jayawardene allowed Prasanna Jayawardene and Chaminda Vaas to bring up their maiden centuries before finally declaring 15 minutes before the close. The Bangladesh openers safely played out three overs before the close.
Prasanna, who scripted a fluent knock, and Vaas, who played a chanceless innings, stitched together an unbroken 223-run stand while Michael Vandort got to his third hundred. Just for good measure, Jayawardene reached his 17th century as Sri Lanka indulged in a run orgy.
Sri Lanka had started off with a positive intent in the first session: Vandort batted aggressively, Tillakaratne Dilshan belted the ball around and Jayawardene upped the ante. Things slowed somewhat in the second session and meandered along at a leisurely pace in the third but the writing was on the wall. The first Test was limping towards a predictable conclusion.
The attack was more incisive once the new ball was taken in the second session. It helped that Jayawardene fell almost immediately, slashing uppishly at a swinging delivery well outside the off stump. Mashrafe Mortaza made the batsmen poke tentatively, Shahadat Hossain got it to kick up from short of a length, and Prasanna and Vaas went quiet. Only 19 runs came in eight overs before both men pulled Shahadat in the ninth over to break the shackles.
The stranglehold was broken as Vaas began to pull with purpose when Shahadat hurled in a few bouncers. Mohammad Ashraful, the captain, sent down a few long hops, and they too were promptly dispatched.
In the morning, with the sun out and a light breeze blowing, the pitch was perfect for batting. Ashraful started off with a pace and spin combo - Mortaza and Abdur Razzak. Mortaza kept pinging the full length, while Razzak sent down one arm-ball after another. But a comatose pitch and aggressive batsmen resulted in the ball being dispatched all around the field.
Dilshan carved the fifth ball of the day, from Mortaza, to the point boundary and two overs later, Vandort waltzed down the track to send Razzak's floaters over the rope twice. A ball later, he brought up a convincing hundred with a sweep shot. It was an innings that hinted at a promising future.
Ashraful, leading for the first time, was aggressive - there was a slip, short-leg and a silly point for the spinner, while only one man was out for the seamer. Perhaps, looking at the dark clouds that the weathermen promised, he could have had an inside-out field and delayed the declaration.
No one could fault his bowling changes though. He rotated the spinners well, giving two spells to Mortaza, but the dead track and the high-quality batsmanship didn't help. The busy Dilshan was, as always, on the look out for the runs. He chose to go back to the spinners to cut, forcing them to bowl fuller, upon which, he drove them nuts.
He showed a strong preference to the off side, scoring nearly three-quarters of his runs in that region. A complete mess-up ended his breezy knock. He square-drove to left of sweeper-cover where Mortaza fumbled, creating thoughts of a second run in Dilshan's mind. But Jayawardene, who retired hurt yesterday due to cramp, stayed rooted to his crease.
Vandort had departed early, after setting the tempo. Using his height, he stretched forward well to drive anything remotely full. He also swept the spinners impressively but he fell, against the run of play, when he pushed a touch lazily at a Mohammad Rafique delivery.
Jayawardene was unhurried and classy, and used the pull shot well to accelerate the scoring. By the close of play, only one team could lose and that was not Sri Lanka.
Sriram Veera is an editorial assistant on Cricinfo