Sangakkara expects tough finish
Kumar Sangakkara has said Sri Lanka have tough work ahead of them on day four if they are to avoid an embarrassing score line on a Premadasa pitch that is becoming difficult to bat on. Bangladesh finished the third day 52 runs ahead with six wickets in hand, as the surface grew handier for the slow bowlers with each session.
Sri Lanka had two opportunities to have the visitors at least five down at stumps, but shelled two catches late in the day to help keep Bangladesh in the match. Nuwan Kulasekara grassed a chance at mid-on when he parried an aerial stroke from Mominul Haque, before Angelo Mathews dropped a low catch off Mushfiqur Rahim at slip soon after. Both chances came off the bowling of Rangana Herath, who took three of the four wickets in the innings.
"It would have been brilliant to have them five down," Sangakkara said. "We had the opportunities, though a close decision also didn't go our way towards the end. We've got ourselves to blame. One was quite an easy chance, and one not so easy. It's important, because we want to go into a fourth or fifth day in the last innings with as little to chase as possible. Rangana Herath did a great job again, and the fast bowlers held their own - especially with the slightly older ball. I think they bowled quite good, but a lot of work [still needs] to be done, and chances to be held, if we want to really get on top tomorrow.
"The pitch is not too bad for batting at the moment, but there's a bit of inconsistent bounce and the wicket's a bit two-paced, with the outfield quite sluggish. All of that makes run-scoring a bit difficult. Maybe the bowlers will fancy themselves a chance of tying a batsman down, and then building pressure to try and get him out."
Sangakkara said Sri Lanka's spinners would be the key to knocking over the final six wickets cheaply, and singled out Herath as the man most likely to inflict damage. Bangladesh have one more recognised batsman in Nasir Hossain, who is yet to take guard, but Sohag Gazi at no. 8 and Abul Hasan at no. 9 are also capable of playing significant innings.
"If there's more turn tomorrow, I think both Dilshan and Rangana will be important for us," he said. "You saw that even in the first innings when the wicket was supposed to be seaming around, it really wasn't. It was Rangana that got us those five important wickets, so he's always going to be an important bowler."
Sangakkara also gave credit to Sri Lanka's fast bowlers, although they have taken only five wickets in the match among the three of them. On day three, the pace attack was largely disciplined, with only Shaminda Eranga threatening to take a wicket.
"The fast bowlers I thought bowled well in partnerships, and as they keep playing - they're quite an inexperienced attack - they'll get a lot better. It's about bowling in partnerships on this track. It's not a wicket that you can come in and blast the opposition out. You have to bowl tight lines, set tight fields, and stop the batsman scoring."
Sangakkara was dismissed, somewhat controversially, in the morning, having made his third consecutive hundred in the series. The third-umpire referral took almost six minutes, as officials attempted to determine whether Sangakkara had edged a ball from Abul Hasan, before eventually giving him out. Sangakkara was philosophical about his demise, but said he was satisfied with his 139.
"It was a strange five minutes, from the delivery to the referral, to [then] being given out. But that's the way cricket goes. Some go your way, some don't.
"Every hundred I score is equally special. I really don't judge if this was better or that was better. Whatever the situation the team is in, you [have to] go out there to score some runs. That's the way to get the team out of a bad situation. My thinking pattern was just to go out there and bat. It was not a wicket or an outfield when you can go out there and play your strokes. All I thought was that I'm just going to wait and make sure the bowlers get tired, and that I'm still hanging around when they do."
Andrew Fidel Fernando is ESPNcricinfo's Sri Lanka correspondent. He tweets here