Sri Lanka hand out old school thrashing

Charlie Austin

September 7, 2001

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There are old school adherents who believe that education is best achieved with sharp cane and plenty of punishment, but one fears that the severe beating being handed out to Bangladesh in this Asian Test Championship match could seriously undermine the long-term confidence of their aspiring players.

Yesterday they faced the humiliation of being bundled out for 90 and today they suffered terribly under a scorching sun as Sri Lanka's batsmen went on an embarrassing run spree, before Muralitharan quickly plucked out the rump of their top order in the evening.

The home team, who started the second day on 246-1, clobbered an astonishing 190 runs in the morning session and a relatively sedate 119 after lunch before declaring on 555 for five.

Bangladesh, facing a mountainous first innings deficit of 465 with more than three days remaining in the match, then lost four wickets before the close to finish on 100 for four, still 365 runs in arrears. At least they had the satisfaction of surpassing their lowly first innings effort.

The scorecard says that they claimed five wickets, but the truth is they only took three because the Sri Lankan captain made the unprecedented decision to retire two batsmen `out' when he felt that they had gorged themselves enough. Jayasuriya is a strict Buddhist so he may have reasoned that over-indulgence was inadvisable.

Batsmen have retired `out' in first-class cricket on a smattering of occasions, usually in early-season games on England's university fields, but not in the 1,560 Test matches that have preceded this game.

In fairness to Jayasuriya the decision was entirely sensible in the case of Marvan Atapattu, as he had already scored his fifth double hundred and the retirement gave new-boy Michael Vandort his first taste of international cricket.

Atapattu, who had started the day on 99, scored 201 off 259 balls, to take his place in a select band of cricketers. Only Australian Donald Bradman (12), England's Walter Hammond (seven) and Pakistan's Javed Miandad (six) have scored more than four double-centuries in Tests.

There was no respite after Atapattu returned to the pavilion as the in-form Mahela Jayawardene scorched his way to an utterly dismissive 150 off just 115 balls, which included 26 fours and one lofted straight six.

Bangladesh's bowlers paid heavily for their inability to maintain a consistent line and length. Each over was littered with a boundary ball and Jayawardene needed no second invitation to unveil his complete repertoire of strokes.

It was Jayawardene's third consecutive Test century, having scored 104 against India in the Second Test at Kandy and 139 in the Third Test at Colombo in his last two matches.

It looked like he was destined to smash Ian Botham's 220-ball record for the fastest double ton in Test cricket, but Jayasuriya pulled him back into the dressing room to let Hashan Tillakaratne have a quick run in the middle before a tea-time declaration after Vandort was caught on the long off boundary for 36.

Earlier in the day, Kumar Sangakkara, 49 overnight, had reached his fifth Test half-century, but then missed out on the run feast as he cut loosely at a short ball from medium pacer Hasibul Hossain and was caught at backward point for 54.

Bangladesh opener Javed Omar started with a flurry of boundaries and Jayasuriya waited just eight overs before he reintroduced off spinner Muttiah Muralitharan. Once again he conjured up the wickets for Sri Lanka.

Mehrab was the first to be dismissed as he was deceived by Muralitharan's arm ball and was trapped leg before wicket for four to end a defiant 31-run opening partnership.

Omar continued to bat positively, but two balls after he charged down the wicket to loft the off spinner over the top Muralitharan trapped him leg before wicket for 40.

Next over off-spinning all rounder Thilan Samaraweera trapped Al Shahriar leg before wicket for seven with his first delivery to leave the tourists on 54 for three.

Habibul Bashar and Aminul Islam then added 27 runs for the fourth wicket before Muralitharan grabbed the wicket of Habibul Bashar, caught by Jayawardene for 19, to leave Bangladesh in the bleakest of positions.

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Charlie Austin Sri Lanka editor When Charlie Austin left for Sri Lanka after graduating from Sussex University, he was a planning a winter's cricket in the tropics and a six-month stint with an environmental NGO. His mother's worst fears were soon realised when it became clear that he had fallen in love with the island. Six months have now become eight years and Colombo has become his home. He joined Cricinfo in February 2000 and now heads operations in Sri Lanka, responsible for both sales and editorial. He is also the director of a UK-based travel company called Red Dot Tours, and is currently ghosting Muttiah Muralitharan's autobiography.
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