Nasir pleased he 'could see it through'
Bangladesh finished their most productive innings in Test cricket with three centuries in Galle - the first time they had achieved that. Nasir Hossain was the last of the three centurions, but his performance was as important to the team as those of their captain Mushfiqur Rahim and Mohammad Ashraful.
Nasir scored 100 and helped Bangladesh pass Sri Lanka's 570 for 4. His 106-run stand with Mushfiqur helped the captain worry less about the scoring rate as he approached his double-hundred, the first by a Bangladesh player. The pair batted at 3.87 runs per over, and by the time their stand ended, Bangladesh were dictating terms.
Nasir also added 31 and 37 for the seventh and eighth wicket, with Sohag Gazi and Abul Hasan. His maiden century came on the back of scores of 96 and 94 in the last two Tests, against West Indies at home. On both occasions he was the ninth batsman out, though he spent just five and two balls in the nineties respectively in those two innings. So he took extra care this time, but he did offer a chance when his lofted on-drive just missed the fingers of mid-on. That shot took him from 90 to 94. He took only singles in the next ten deliveries to reach the milestone.
"I am very happy that I could see it through this time," Nasir told ESPNcricinfo. "It wasn't a great feeling to be dismissed in the 90s. I got out just before tea in one of the innings, so it was really important that I got a hundred when I had another opportunity today.
"Tamim bhai was telling me that you could have had three centuries if you had scored those hundreds. I was telling myself that yes, it could have been three hundreds on the trot. But everything happens for a reason."
During his short career of six Tests before this game, Nasir has had to curb his natural instincts by playing to the situation. Chief selector Akram Khan, after picking him for the first time in 2011, said that was Nasir's strength.
On this occasion, Nasir padded up on the third morning, when Mushfiqur and Ashraful got together, and sat like that for an entire day. On the fourth morning, he was called into action after 17 minutes, when Ashraful fell. Coming in to bat with the team on 444 for 5, it is easy to slip into a casual mindset. Nasir, however, made it a point to enjoy the challenge.
"We have some very good batsmen in the top and middle order. I enjoy batting at this number. But it is not without its challenges," he said. "I am presented with different situations every day. I sometimes have to face the second new ball, adjust between old and new balls and also sometimes I have to make runs quickly."
Nasir has bigger challenges to face this year and in the future. His biggest advantage is his ability to withstand pressure, and though it is just his seventh Test, such traits often help in the most difficult situations.
Mohammad Isam is ESPNcricinfo's Bangladesh correspondent