First Test

Sri Lanka v Bangladesh

At P. Saravanamuttu Stadium, Colombo, July 21, 22, 23. Sri Lanka won by an innings and 196 runs. Toss: Sri Lanka. Test debuts: W. R. S. de Silva; Alamgir Kabir, Ehsanul Haque, Hannan Sarkar, Talha Jubair.

Inspired by a swansong from Aravinda de Silva, Sri Lanka improved on their biggest Test victory for the third time in 11 months - they had beaten Bangladesh by an innings and 137 runs in September, and Zimbabwe by an innings and 166 in December. De Silva had been absent then, but Muralitharan played a leading role in both games. This time, on his comeback after a shoulder injury, he took five wickets in each innings. That brought him level with Richard Hadlee's record of 36 returns of five or more in a Test innings, though Hadlee had used 86 Tests to Muralitharan's 76. It was the 11th time Murali had taken ten or more in a match, beating Hadlee's nine.

The venue was Muralitharan's club ground, the P. Saravanamuttu Stadium, which welcomed the return of Test cricket after an eight-year lapse. Sri Lanka had played their inaugural Test here, against England in February 1982, and claimed their maiden Test win, against India three and a half years later.

Hannan Sarkar, one of four debutants for Bangladesh, made a fine start, scoring 55 in 69 balls. He and Habibul Bashar had taken the total to 107 for two just before lunch, but Sarkar was trapped by Jayasuriya's first delivery, and Muralitharan snapped up Habibul in the next over. After a lengthy rain-break, the Bangladeshis were shot out for 161 before the close.

Because of the time lost, an extra hour was added to the second day. Sri Lanka made full use of it, scoring 509 in 104 overs, a Test record for a single side in a day's play. Previously, only England had reached 500 in a day, totalling 503 in 111 overs against South Africa at Lord's in 1924. De Silva led the onslaught. In a year of rapid double-centuries, he completed 200 in 229 balls, the fourth-quickest in Test cricket. He had reached his 20th Test century in 136 balls, with his 15th four, and struck another 13 fours plus a six, lifted over mid-wicket, batting 234 balls and 318 minutes in all. It was his second Test double, after 267 in Wellington 11 years before, but this turned out to be his farewell appearance in Test cricket; he did not play in the next game, and later announced that he would be available only for one-day internationals in future.

Sri Lanka had stuttered early on, losing three wickets in five overs. But de Silva added 150 with Sangakkara and 234 with Jayasuriya. Hitting freely for six sixes, Jayasuriya raced to 145, his tenth Test hundred, in 164 balls. He and de Silva were finally halted by the left-arm spin of Enamul Haque, and Sri Lanka declared at an overnight 541 for nine.

Trailing by 380, Bangladesh fared slightly better second time around. Their other opener, Al Sahariar, defied the attack for more than two and a half hours. But once again Muralitharan provided their death knell, supported brilliantly by the close cordon: Sangakkara, who had passed the wicket-keeper's gloves to Prasanna Jayawardene, held four catches, including Sahariar, at silly point. De Silva claimed the final wicket before tea on the third day.

Man of the Match: M. Muralitharan.

Close of play: First day, Sri Lanka 32-0 (Atapattu 20, Arnold 10); Second day, Sri Lanka 541-9 (T. C. B. Fernando 31, W. R. S. de Silva 5).

© John Wisden & Co