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The Report by Siddarth Ravindran
March 18, 2013
Bangladesh 240 and 158 for 4 (Tamim 59, Herath 3-45) lead Sri Lanka 346 (Sangakkara 139, Chandimal 102) by 52 runs
Scorecard and ball-by-ball details
In the 60th over of Bangladesh's innings, the Premadasa Test was evenly poised. They had comfortably wiped out the first-innings deficit of 106, the opener Jahurul Islam had sweat dripping down his face after nearly four hours of resolute batting and was closing in on his first Test half-century, and the stylish Monimul Haque was again showing he was not out of place at the Test level.
Suddenly, Jahurul had a rush of blood, storming out to try loft Rangana Herath; he missed the ball and was stumped. He swung the bat at the pitch in such frustration at the dismissal that he lost control of it and it slipped out of his hand. There were more disappointed swipes of the bat as Jahurul made his way to the pavilion.
It was a feeling of disappointment that Bangladesh fans have come to know well, as their side again squandered hours of good work in a couple of minutes. Mahmudullah was done in next ball by a ripper from Herath, and suddenly Bangladesh were effectively 37 for 4 and from an even footing, the match had twisted Sri Lanka's way.
Till that moment 10 overs from close, Bangladesh had every reason to be satisfied with the day's play. Their attack has faced plenty of punishment from Kumar Sangakkara over the years but they dismissed him in the tenth over of the morning to ensure Sri Lanka's lead didn't get out of hand. They had an agonising six-minute wait for that decision though, as the third umpire watched endless replays to determine whether Sangakkara had nicked the ball through to the wicketkeeper.
Shaminda Eranga then struck some forceful blows with the bat to stretch the first-innings advantage beyond 100, but the Sri Lankan tail was soon polished off by the variations of offspinner Sohag Gazi. Nuwan Kulasekara edged a Gazi delivery that zipped unexpectedly away, giving Mushfiqur Rahim a fifth catch of the innings - a Bangladesh record.
Bangladesh have an appalling Test record against Sri Lanka, losing every match before this series by big margins. Sri Lanka would have been confident of extending that record after taking a substantial first-innings lead. That too on a track where it hasn't been easy to bat and with a heavy outfield that doesn't suit Bangladesh's boundary-based batting, but Tamim Iqbal and Jahurul erased those thoughts with a gritty 91-run stand.
Tamim began with a typically flamboyant cut for four, and powered the ball several times around point but it wasn't the whirlwind innings usually associated with him. With the pitch still by no means treacherous, he played the waiting game, picking the deliveries to punish.
Though Herath was caned for a six each by Tamim and Jahurul in one over, it was mostly slow going from Bangladesh. Jahurul was reprieved early on, with Suranga Lakmal shelling a caught-and-bowled chance, after which he showcased his watertight defence. That six off Herath was the only boundary he hit in the second session.
After the seamers tired, Sri Lanka tried spin from both ends, with Herath and Tillakaratne Dilshan, but that too proved fruitless. About 20 minutes before tea, Angelo Mathews decided to bring back his fastest bowler, Eranga, and the move worked, as Eranga got Tamim to chop onto the stumps.
Mohammad Ashraful then had his second failure of the match as he stayed on the backfoot to a pitched-up delivery from Herath. The ball spun past his weak defensive shot and crashed into the top of off.
Fears of a Bangladesh collapse were stemmed as Jahurul continued to concentrate as hard as ever, and Mominul played with the confidence of a man who had just started his Test career with two half-centuries. The quick bowlers weren't getting much help, and Sri Lanka who had packed the side with three seamers, turned to the part-time spin of Dilshan to assist Herath. Jahurul was calmly progressing towards his maiden Test half-century, after failing to reach there despite passing 30 on four previous occasions, and Bangladesh were looking at ease.
Then came Jahurul's moment of madness, and Bangladesh slipped. They could have been in further trouble if Nuwan Kulasekara had clasped an overhead chance off Mominul at mid-off or Mathews had clung on to an edge from Mushfiqur. Those let-offs allowed Bangladesh to reach stumps four down.
Siddarth Ravindran is a senior sub-editor at ESPNcricinfoFeeds: Siddarth Ravindran
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Both teams face contrasting opponents in their next Test series. While West Indies will be tested against stronger teams, Bangladesh have it easier but without much to gain