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July 11, 2007
Only 29 overs were possible on a rain-marred first day's play at Kandy's Asgiriya International Stadium but those 110 minutes of play were enough for Sri Lanka to continue their domination over Bangladesh. Mahela Jayawardene won his third consecutive toss and given the moist conditions ahead of the start, put Bangladesh in to bat in the dead rubber. With each rain delay the pitch turned into a skiddy track and the bowlers plugged away amid the showers to leave the tourists on 72 for 4.
Three slips and a gully awaited the Bangladesh openers as a fully peroxide Lasith Malinga, spearheading an inexperienced pace attack, tore in and let loose a volley of lifters and swinging deliveries. Two low full tosses in the third over got Javed Omar boundaries, but then Malinga pitched one shorter on middle, got it to straighten, and a leaden-footed Omar was out leg before. Malinga continued to probe as a stiff breeze blew across from the west, but just 12 overs into the match rain sent everyone inside the pavilion.
Farveez Maharoof, in the XI in the absence of a Middlesex-bound Chaminda Vaas, gave Sri Lanka their second wicket in the first over on resumption. Habibul Bashar, who had begun to look confident against the same bowler in the first session, couldn't get glove out of the way as he fended a lifter and was given out caught behind.
Muttiah Muralitharan, after bowling a solitary over before the first rain came down, returned under overcast conditions with just one catcher close-in. Clearly bowling quicker to get the ball to skid through, he had the batsmen working overtime to get over the ball. He didn't get a wicket then, but with the pitch slower than at the SSC or P Sara Stadium, it was only a matter of time before he struck.
Rain returned to hold up play again, for 117 minutes this time, and when action resumed the ball was skidding quite low and all over the place. Muralitharan spun a web around Rajin Saleh who, having scratched around for 29 deliveries, failed to read the doosra and edged to slip for 0.
Batting was not easy, and the deteriorating light didn't help. Shahriar Nafees, who in the first passage of play cut a confident figure either leaving the ball or flicking to leg, got bogged down by Muralitharan and threw it all away. The bowler proposed, tossing one up outside off stump, but Nafees' peculiarly atrocious attempt at a slog back down the ground disposed it to mid-off's lap. He made 29 from 77 deliveries.
Deteriorating light forced Jayawardene to turn to Tillakaratne Dilshan, who started off from around the stumps to get some drift into the pads, and with his quick round-arm action had the batsmen on the back foot before the umpires decided the light wasn't good enough. Mohammad Ashraful, batting on 4, was only too keen to get back inside.
Inclement weather is likely to have its say throughout this game, and the first day has proven to be a very damp affair.
What's wrong with their cricket? Well, what isn't?