Series Review

Bangladesh v Sri Lanka, 2005-06

Utpal Shuvro

Test matches (2): Bangladesh 0, Sri Lanka 2

One-day internationals (3): Bangladesh 1, Sri Lanka 2

The end results were the same as usual, with defeats in the Tests and the one-day series, but there was a silver lining for Bangladesh. Previously Sri Lanka hardly had to break sweat to beat them - in the first Test between the two, in Colombo in September 2001, two Sri Lankans retired "out" after making big hundreds - but this time both Tests were competitive, and Bangladesh even pulled off a rare one-day victory.

The Sri Lankans arrived straight from the VB Series, and even the experienced Sanath Jayasuriya admitted that subcontinental conditions seemed foreign to him after Australia's bouncy tracks. In five previous Tests against Bangladesh (all of them played in Colombo), Sri Lanka had piled up seven centuries: this time they had only one, by Upul Tharanga, the left-hander who had lost all his trophies and cricket gear in the tsunami. And what an innings it was: his 165 rescued Sri Lanka from a precarious 43 for four in the Second Test at Bogra.

Sri Lanka were not at full strength. Their regular captain Marvan Atapattu was sidelined with a back injury, overworked fast bowler Chaminda Vaas was rested, and Muttiah Muralitharan missed the one-day series to see his son, who was born during the Australian tour.

Mahela Jayawardene led Sri Lanka in a full tour for the first time, and was relieved that Murali was able to return for the Tests. His record against Bangladesh is stunning - 16 wickets here took him to 50 against them, in only six Tests, at 12.52 - and although he had to work harder than before for his victims he was the main difference between the two sides. After becoming the first bowler to claim 1,000 international wickets in the First Test, he reached 600 in Tests in the Second.

Bangladesh continued their gradual improvement, but their inability to land the knockout punch was increasingly frustrating. They had Sri Lanka in trouble in both Tests, and had the best fast bowler on view in the tall 19-year-old firebrand Shahadat Hossain, who took five for 86 at Bogra. But again the batting underperformed: only once did they make over 300, at Chittagong, when Mohammad Ashraful hit a splendid 136 - and the next-best score was only 34.

The matches were marred by indifferent umpiring, which was at its worst in the Second Test, with Kumar Sangakkara's lbw, courtesy of Asad Rauf of Pakistan, and three dubious decisions from the Indian Krishna Hariharan in Bangladesh's disappointing second innings. There is a feeling among the Bangladeshis that some umpires have a different approach when dealing with the weaker teams. Dav Whatmore, the coach, said: "I have some very strong feelings, not only about this match but the entire series. Unfortunately I cannot say anything publicly. But I will convey it through the proper channels.

Match reports for

1st ODI: Bangladesh v Sri Lanka at Bogra, Feb 20, 2006
Report | Scorecard

2nd ODI: Bangladesh v Sri Lanka at Bogra, Feb 22, 2006
Report | Scorecard

3rd ODI: Bangladesh v Sri Lanka at Chittagong, Feb 25, 2006
Report | Scorecard

1st Test: Bangladesh v Sri Lanka at Chittagong, Feb 28-Mar 3, 2006
Report | Scorecard

2nd Test: Bangladesh v Sri Lanka at Bogra, Mar 8-11, 2006
Report | Scorecard

© John Wisden & Co.