Sri Lanka v Bangladesh, 1st Test, Galle, 5th day March 12, 2013

Eight tons in Galle stalemate


Sri Lanka 570 for 4 dec (Sangakkara 142, Thirimanne 155, Chandimal 116*) and 335 for 4 dec (Sangakkara 105, Dilshan 126, Vithanage 59) drew with Bangladesh 638 (Mushfiqur 200, Ashraful 190, Nasir 100) and 70 for 1 (Jahurul 41*)
Scorecard and ball-by-ball details

Three things are more or less taken for granted in a Galle Test - a Mahela Jayawardene century, a bagful of wickets for Rangana Herath and a win for Sri Lanka. For a change, none of these happened. Jayawardene was forced out of the series to injury, a benign pitch got the better of Herath and Sri Lanka had to live with a high-scoring draw, which had a record-equalling eight centuries from both sides over five sapping days of Test cricket. No team looked like closing out the game, but Bangladesh walked away with a moral victory, breaking country records, which included their first-ever 600-plus total. It was also their first draw against Sri Lanka.

A draw was a foregone conclusion by the fourth afternoon and it only needed a brain-freeze from the batsmen in either side to produce a result. The fifth-day pitch was so flat, the batsmen might as well have been batting on the swanky Southern Expressway a short distance from the ground. It was a chance to boost batting averages, which Kumar Sangakkara and Tillakaratne Dilshan did by scoring centuries. Kithuruwan Vithanage, denied an opportunity to bat in the first innings, took guard in his debut Test in a pressure-free scenario and made a brisk fifty. Sri Lanka enforced a surprise declaration shortly before the scheduled tea break, hoping to spark some life in the final session but Bangladesh saw off the final moments without much trouble, losing a wicket. The situation was pointless enough for the captains to call it off an hour before stumps.

Sangakkara, returning from a finger injury, eased his way back with two centuries in the match. Dilshan helped himself to one too after missing out on the first innings, increasing the match century tally to eight, equaling the world record set by West Indies and South Africa in Antigua in 2005. There was not much turn and the bounce was consistent, making it easy for the batsmen to adapt quickly and build. Shahadat Hossain tried banging it in short to Sangakkara - like he did to dismiss Dimuth Karunaratne yesterday - who pulled with ease along the ground. Dilshan was prepared to use the crease to milk boundaries, punishing anything that was fractionally short.

Sangakkara offered a half chance when he edged Abul Hasan past the diving Mushfiqur Rahim, who didn't have slip fielders to support him. Sangakkara followed that up with a couple of exquisite drives past cover to hasten towards a century. Dilshan reached his landmark - his 16th Test century - first with a clip to square leg, while Sangakkara got to his 32nd century with a punch to mid-off. Sangakkara made twin centuries in a Test for the first time, the sixth such occasion a Sri Lankan batsman had done so. Incidentally, the previous batsman to do so was his partner Dilshan, also against Bangladesh, in 2009.

Sangakkara fell shortly after lunch, pulling a short ball by Mahmudullah and taken neatly by Jahurul Islam falling to his right at short midwicket. Dilshan too fell going for an aggressive stroke, pulling Mahmudullah to deep square leg where Abul took the catch running to his left.

The batsman who had the most to gain was Vithanage. Fresh from his century against the Bangladeshis in Matara, he began with a confident punch for four off Sohag Gazi wide of extra cover. He had the audacity to reverse-sweep for a four down to third man, an indication both of his confidence and of the flatness of the pitch. He played the conventional sweep as well, imparting a lot of power behind the shot. Bangladesh were going through the motions, giving their part-time bowlers like Nasir Hossain a go, as there was no point tiring out the frontline bowlers. Vithanage was hardly challenged, pulling a six over deep midwicket off Nasir as he approached his fifty. He was eventually bowled playing on to Mahmudullah, who picked up all three wickets with freebie short deliveries, much to amusement of the bowler himself and his captain. With no milestones left to chase, Angelo Mathews saw no point in batting on and declared giving Bangladesh an improbable 268 to chase in one session.

The only surprise was the wicket of Anamul Haque, who misjudged the line from Shaminda Eranga, looked to defend rather late and chopped the ball onto the stumps. Jahurul and Mohammad Ashraful took the score to 70 and at 4pm, the Test was predictably called off.

The Bangladesh Cricket Board had recently announced incentives for the team to draw Tests and take games into the fifth day. They achieved that, but this Test will be remembered for the lopsided contest between bat and ball - 1613 runs for just 19 wickets. Sri Lanka will hope for a more sporting surface at the R Premadasa Stadium in Colombo, which hosts the second Test in four days' time.

Kanishkaa Balachandran is a senior sub-editor at ESPNcricinfo

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • Muhammad Rakibul on March 15, 2013, 8:31 GMT

    I don't wanna see 8 tons in Colombo test. A result-less match won't b enjoyable for anyone. Lahiru, Chandimal etc. had improved their batting average in 1st test, now it's time for SLC to prepare a sporting rather spinning pitch.

  • associate cricket fan on March 15, 2013, 6:27 GMT

    @gnanzcupid. I agree sanga is our best batsman in the team, but not mahela. His record in overseas is very poor. Any youngster would have done better than mahela in overseas wickets. Only reason why he is in the team is due to his captaincy skills. I guess we still need to him teach his captaincy skills to mathews. Had mahela captained the side at galle I am sure BD wouldnt have scored 638.

  • gnanavelu on March 15, 2013, 5:19 GMT

    @sinhaya i see no one in your country match or beat the class of mahela and sanga. I never said sanga scores only no flat track. The world knows that the duo has many times saved the face of lankan cricket many times in crisis single handedly. Certainly the youngsters would have failed in the absence of sanga. His mere presence in the squad must be a boost to others.There is a difference between being optimistic and being arrogant. I am sorry to say that i feel you are in the second category.what you are doing is like saying steven smith will become a better batsman than michael clarke. Time should answer. I don see your youngsters matching sanga and mahela. Ill be happy if they prove me wrong. Even though you being a lankan fan and not rating the duo as one of the best,i,as a true cricket fan will proudly say that these two are the best your country can produce atleast in this century

  • Torsha on March 14, 2013, 23:40 GMT

    What's more funny is that SL bowlers couldn't even took 10 wickets at home conditions. This pitch is perfect for players like Sanga to maintain his average and ICC rank.

  • Amila on March 14, 2013, 19:46 GMT

    No big fuss over this 638. If this pitch was a usual Galle pitch, the results will be 1-0 in SL favor. Using common SL strategy. Bat First. Score Big. Declare at some point. Unleash spin twice. Innings victory. Fortunately for BD this was a road. They had a chance to save the match.

  • Prashan on March 14, 2013, 18:40 GMT

    @gnanzcupid, wrong to say Sanga got runs only on flat tracks. Sanga has managed decent scores outside Asia though centuries are not enough. Sanga and Mahela never saved us singlehandedly. Even if Sanga failed in this match, Chandimal and Thirimanne would have still gone on to score tons. Even if Sanga and Mahela never took to cricket, someone else from our clubs would have got the breakthrough and would have cashed in. Bangladesh batted superbly but we also batted superbly in our first innings losing only 4 wickets. Certainly Chandimal, Thirimanne, Vithanage, Karunaratne and Kushal Perera can match or will be better than Sanga and Mahela.

    All countries have a good cricket future. No country has a bad cricket future. But hope the gap between all ten test playing nations will be as less as possible so that all games will be hopefully nailbiters.

  • Shoaib on March 14, 2013, 17:15 GMT

    Feel bad for Sri Lanka that there is no Murali or Vass (1000+ Test wickets) to save them. Life moves on like they say.... wake up! :)

  • gnanavelu on March 14, 2013, 13:00 GMT

    @sinhaya. Poor understanding mate.I never said sanga and mahela were flat track kings. I said they would have not been considered great had they got runs only on flat tracks. They have saved lankan team on most of the matches single handedly. I was praising the attitude of the bangla batters. I rate the innings of bangla batters higher than young lankans because you know its not tough batting along with sanga that too on a road on the first two days. Anyone can bat freely without pressure on such a road after crossing a score of 300 that too after such a platform laid by sanga. Bangla players batted with the pressure and surpassed the lankan score comfortably thus proving the lankan underestimation a blunder. Even i could have scored a century had i batted around sanga on that road. So do you say that the cricketing future of my country is bright?

  • Dummy4 on March 14, 2013, 11:37 GMT

    Flat or not. The key ingredient for a score like this is the cliche word in cricket "patience". Stop being all so negative and learn to appreciate things in life.

  • Prashan on March 14, 2013, 11:29 GMT

    @gnanzcupid, just like you acknowledge Ashraful's and Rahim's pure brilliance, same must apply to Chandimal and Thirimanne too. Even Vithanage as well.

    Yes if Sanga and Mahela are flat track kings, then the 2006 SSC test when the 2 piled 624 runs for the 3rd wicket, SA should have drawn that test match. Dont forget that Galle has been the best test venue in Sri Lanka producing results in 16 out of 20 tests. Reason for draws before this test was due to rain. I agree this pitch was awful and ICC must warn Galle for this.