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The Report by Siddarth Ravindran
March 17, 2013
Sri Lanka 294 for 6 (Sangakkara 127*, Chandimal 102) lead Bangladesh 240 by 54 runs
Scorecard and ball-by-ball details
When Bangladesh folded for 240 on the first day in Colombo, it seemed an insufficient total. Only three times have Bangladesh managed to bowl out serious Test opposition below that score. Coming into this Test, their bowlers had only 22 Test caps between them, and their bowlers' averages made for alarming reading - only offspinner Sohag Gazi manages below 75.
There had also been worries that Bangladesh had gone in with three fast bowlers and no left-arm spinners, an almost unheard-of strategy for a team that has usually relied heavily on spin. But they put those dreadful numbers behind them in the morning session with a spirited display that left Sri Lanka at 69 for 4, before they were thwarted by a familiar bogeyman.
The last time Bangladesh toured Sri Lanka, Kumar Sangakkara racked up 200* and 222*, and this time he opened with twin tons in Galle. With Mahela Jayawardene out with an injury, Thilan Samaraweera retired and Tillakaratne Dilshan dismissed on the first day, there was plenty of responsibility left with Sangakkara to guide an inexperienced line-up. He duly delivered, completing a third Test century in 10 days, as he methodically negotiated the challenges posed by a testing track and Bangladesh's attack.
Dinesh Chandimal, for whom Test cricket continued to be easy, assisted Sangakkara with his second hundred of the series. The pair's 195-run stand shifted the balance of the match towards Sri Lanka. An already feeble Bangladesh attack was further hampered by the unavailability of Robiul Islam, one of their four specialist bowlers, who had to leave the field just before tea due to cramps.
This was not a track that encouraged flamboyance, and was more about waiting for the bad ball and patiently keeping out the good ones. Sangakkara did just that, cutting out the risks, and capitalised when the Bangladesh bowlers dropped short or bowled on the pads. Chandimal was a bit more enterprising, using his feet to Gazi, who bowled a marathon 18-over spell, to loft the ball as he made an energetic century. Both batsmen scored plenty of runs with dabs and tucks square of the wicket. As the partnership flourished, the batsmen brought out the big shots more often, and the pace of scoring picked up after tea.
Sangakkara had a couple of close calls, with a bottom-edge on 81 evading both the stumps and the wicketkeeper, and a punch landing just out of reach of short cover, but other than that Bangladesh's bowlers didn't pose too much of a problem. He was the first to a hundred, and didn't mark the occasion with any exuberant celebration, befitting someone who scores them often. Chandimal was more pumped up on reaching his second Test century, the additional duties of wicketkeeper and vice-captain seem to be resting easy on his shoulders so far.
The pair were looking exceedingly comfortable, and you started to wonder where a wicket would come from for Bangladesh. It came through Rubel Hossain, who got one to nip in and beat Chandimal's defence, leaving him bowled for 102.
Before stumps, another of Sri Lanka's next-generation batsmen, Kithruwan Vithanage, came out and played a series of shots, including an authoritative pull to get off the mark, but he perished as he flailed a wide delivery to deep point.
Although Bangladesh's bowlers wilted as the day progressed, they began with intent to rattle the top order. Dimuth Karunaratne was one of the youngsters who didn't pile up a big score on the shirtfront in Galle, and with six of his ten Test innings having ended before he reached 15, he needed some runs to shore up his place. He and Sangakkara began confidently with a trio of boundaries in the first three overs, which was as many as Bangladesh managed in the entire first session yesterday. Karunaratne gave it away though, flashing at a short and wide delivery to edge to the keeper for 17.
That wicket was a freebie for Abul Hasan, but the other two Bangladesh got came off more threatening deliveries. Lahiru Thirimanne was caught-behind for a duck, nicking a pitched up delivery that moved away slightly and Angelo Mathews was foxed by Gazi as he played for the turn, getting an outside edge that was snaffled by Mahmudullah at slip.
That was as good as it got for Bangladesh, as Sangakkara and Chandimal then bailed Sri Lanka out of a tight spot. Sangakkara is still in the middle, and a lead of around 100 is likely to prove pivotal in this relatively low-scoring game.
Siddarth Ravindran is a senior sub-editor at ESPNcricinfoFeeds: Siddarth Ravindran
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