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The Report by Kanishkaa Balachandran
March 9, 2013
Bangladesh 135 for 2 (Ashraful 65*, Mominul 35*) trail Sri Lanka 570 for 4 dec (Thirimanne 155*, Chandimal 116*) by 435 runs
Scorecard and ball-by-ball details
Centuries by Lahiru Thirimanne and Dinesh Chandimal extended Sri Lanka's domination on the second day, allowing for a declaration at 570, for the loss of only four wickets. Having been on the field for four and a half sessions, Bangladesh had the better part of the afternoon to regroup and script their reply, and ended the day on a satisfying 135 for 2 with a set Mohammad Ashraful at the crease. Though the visitors had a long way to go, they had the platform to go about their first target of going past the follow-on mark.
The most satisfying aspect of Sri Lanka's performance was that two of their batsmen earmarked for the future, scored centuries. Thirimanne and Chandimal didn't allow Bangladesh to snatch the initiative at any stage. While Thirimanne was watchful, cutting out risky shots, Chandimal focused on acceleration as Sri Lanka worked to a plan of getting quick runs before a predictable declaration.
Bangladesh had their moments of control in the opening session. After hemorrhaging runs on the opening day, their bowlers turned in a better performance with the ball, but had only one wicket to show for in the entire day. Better fielding, though, would have helped Bangladesh limit the damage. Chandimal was let off thrice early in his innings, followed by another dropped catch when he had crossed 100. Those bloopers dashed Bangladesh's hopes of infiltrating the lower order. Instead, a massive, unbroken partnership of 203 was allowed to develop and after lunch, it was a matter of when Angelo Mathews would pull the plug on the innings.
Chandimal, never one to leave alone a loose delivery irrespective of the format, slashed his first ball over the slips. He was dropped on 5 when he slashed low to gully off Abul Hasan. The aggrieved bowler only had himself to blame for the second let-off, when he put down a catch at fine leg. Shahadat Hossain had set the trap by bowling short, and he cut an exasperated figure when his fellow seamer fluffed the take, despite having it covered. Chandimal, on 12, then charged the offspinner Sohag Gazi, but Jahurul Islam failed to time his dive properly at short midwicket.
Thirimanne was watchful, compared to the opening day. Save for an edgy drive that beat the diving gully fielder, which took him to the 90s, he was cautious outside the off stump. Chandimal was relatively carefree, charging the spinners and lofting over midwicket, past cover, and driving down the ground. When the seamers bowled it short, he ensured he kept the pull along the ground, learning from his earlier reprieve. He raced towards his fifty with a flurry of boundaries.
Thirimanne, in contrast, was slower in his approach, perhaps mindful of his impetuous stroke when on 91 in Sydney, that cut short a deserving maiden century. On 99, he gave Elias Sunny the charge, and picked up two runs to seal his landmark.
Chandimal didn't alter his approach after lunch, charging Mahmudullah and launching him over the sightscreen. Gazi, who had picked up two wickets by deliberately tossing it up wide outside off stump, tried the same against Chandimal but he improvised and managed to bash it past cover. Chandimal's first fifty came off 91 balls, but his second needed just half the number of balls. He was dropped for the fourth time - on 111 - at long-on, but by then the damage had already been done.
Thirimanne was strong on the off side against the seamers. A single to cover took him past 150 and the declaration came shortly after.
Bangladesh began briskly, but the openers were troubled by Nuwan Kulasekara's disconcerting inswing. It was a slightly short delivery by Shaminda Eranga that cost them a wicket. Jahurul failed to get his gloves out of the way and offered a simple catch to the keeper.
The most pleasing aspect of Bangladesh's reply was Ashraful's fluency. He had form coming into this game, having scored 102 in the tour match in Matara. He was strong on the off side against the seamers, punishing the fuller deliveries wide of point and cover. The ease with which he dealt with Ajantha Mendis was crucial, because he didn't let the bowler settle into a rhythm after striking in his first over. Mendis - playing his first Test since May 2011 - removed Anamul Haque with a googly, yorking the batsman who was driving away from the body. Ashraful ensured he got a good stride forward against Mendis, smothering the spin. If it was pitched up, on the pads, Ashraful managed to flick it away nonchalantly for boundaries through the on side. One such whip brought up his fifty, off just 67 balls.
The debutant Mominul Haque too came into this game with runs - 99 in the tour game - and he too looked comfortable against the spinners, driving Rangana Herath for boundaries on both sides of the wicket. The pair brought up their half-century stand in just 58 balls, as Sri Lanka looked desperate for a wicket before stumps. The final session was undoubtedly Bangladesh's, and their fortunes in this Test will depend on how many more sessions they can dominate, especially on the third day.
Kanishkaa Balachandran is a senior sub-editor at ESPNcricinfoFeeds: Kanishkaa Balachandran
© ESPN Sports Media Ltd.
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