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Andrew Fidel Fernando in Galle
March 11, 2013
Mushfiqur Rahim was wary of the work still ahead for Bangladesh to achieve an encouraging draw in the first Test in Galle, after the visitors amassed their highest-ever total of 638 in the first innings. Mushfiqur and Mohammad Ashraful provided the backbone of the mammoth innings with a 267-run fifth wicket partnership, in which both men eclipsed the previous highest score by a Bangladesh batsman.
Mushfiqur also made history by becoming the first Bangladesh batsman to make a double-century in internationals, while Ashraful perished early in the day for 190, having been unbeaten on 189 overnight. Nasir Hossain was the third batsman to score a century, while Mominul Haque had made 55 earlier in the innings. Sri Lanka went to stumps 48 runs ahead and with nine wickets in hand in the second innings, but despite a draw being the likeliest outcome, Mushfiqur insisted Bangladesh had plenty to do to achieve it. In their last series in November, Bangladesh had been in a similar position late in the Test, but collapsed for 167 all out against West Indies on the final day, in pursuit of 245 for victory.
"Still a long way to go before we can say it was a good draw," Mushfiqur said. "Tomorrow it's day five and anything can happen. If we can manage to draw that, probably it will be a huge boost for us. It's our main target to play consistent cricket over the five days in a Test, and we can take a lot of positives. We didn't do well with the ball in the first innings, but on the second day we came back with the ball - although we didn't get many wickets."
Mushfiqur said he was ecstatic with his double-hundred, but reiterated praise for Ashraful, for also shouldering the responsibility of replying to Sri Lanka's 570 for 4. The pair had come together with their side in danger of failing to pass the follow-on target, at 177 for 4.
"I thought that if I got the chance to bat long and if I got a partner at the other end, I would like to score a big hundred. Fortunately Ash really batted well, and also Nasir, so I had partners. I really played well. We really needed it badly, because they scored huge and we needed to avoid the follow-on. That was our first target. Our second target was to make sure we cross their total, so we did that.
"When you have a good partner at the other end who can rotate the strike and score the odd four, it's really helpful. Ash was telling me, "If you play well and if you don't play a silly shot, you will get a lot of runs on this track. If we play session by session, and bat well, don't look at the scoreboard." That's what we did."
Ashraful was playing his first Test since December 2011, and only found a place in the XI after injury had ruled out both Shakib Al Hasan and Tamim Iqbal. Sri Lanka is his favourite opponent, having made five of his six hundreds against them, including three in Sri Lanka.
"When Shakib is not here and Tamim is not playing, Ash came into the team and we had a lot of pressure and expectations on him, because he has always played well against Sri Lanka. He's probably a bit unfortunate that he didn't score a double hundred. Hopefully next time he can make it. We're really happy to see him make big runs."
The Galle pitch showed few signs of wear, even at the end of the fourth day. Tillakaratne Dilshan and Kumar Sangakkara put on 99 runs for the second wicket and were unbeaten at stumps.
"On the fourth day, in the last session it spun a bit, but still it's a good wicket to bat on. Hopefully if we bowl really well tomorrow in the first session and take a couple of wickets, probably we can put pressure on them."
Andrew Fidel Fernando is ESPNcricinfo's Sri Lanka correspondent. He tweets hereFeeds: Andrew Fidel Fernando
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