At Bogra, March 8, 9, 10, 11, 2006. Sri Lanka won by ten wickets. Toss: Bangladesh.
Sri Lanka clinched the match and the series, after scenes reminiscent of The Oval 1968, when the England players joined the groundstaff in trying to dry the ground after a downpour in an Ashes Test. This time it was the touring Sri Lankans who were out there with the groundsmen: Tom Moody, their coach, was the busiest man around, manning the super-sopper. Sri Lanka had needed only 43 more runs to win the previous day when the umpires took the players off for bad light with seven overs remaining, and were not inclined to hang around any longer than necessary. It paid off: play finally resumed at 4.30 on the fourth day, and only eight overs were required to finish the game.
The first Test at Bogra (the 92nd Test ground) was closer than the ten-wicket victory margin suggests. Bangladesh were disappointed to be bowled out for 234 - Habibul Bashar top-scored with 69, though the others could make little of Muralitharan - but then reduced Sri Lanka to 43 for four, before a superb century from the 21-year-old Tharanga spared their blushes. He batted throughout the innings - 442 minutes, 304 balls - before being the last out for a career-best 165, his first Test hundred. Tharanga was a deserved fifth wicket for the young fast bowler Shahadat Hossain, who had earlier removed Samaraweera and Sangakkara (to a debatable leg-before decision by Asad Rauf) with successive balls.
Once again Bangladesh's second-innings batting let them down, although three dubious decisions, this time by umpire Hariharan, didn't help. Habibul made 73, but again no one else stuck around until Mohammad Rafique bashed 64 down the order. For once, Muralitharan was not the main destroyer: after taking his 50th five-wicket haul in the first innings, he contented himself with the two victims he needed for 600 in Tests. The landmark wicket - also his 50th against Bangladesh - was Khaled Mashud, who pointed out that he had also been Murali's 550th scalp, and (in the previous Test) his 1,000th international victim. "Maybe I'll be his last wicket as well," joked Mashud afterwards. Sri Lanka needed just 120 to win - and only the weather threatened to stop them. But after the interruptions the left-handed openers Vandort (who took his average in four Tests, all against Bangladesh, to 68.20) and Tharanga swept to the target without being separated.
Man of the Match: W. U. Tharanga.
Man of the Series: M. Muralitharan.