Individual milestones dominated the most one-sided of the three days so far as Sri Lanka eventually declared after piling on a whopping 730 for 6, after Mahela Jayawardene
reached his seventh double-century and Kithuruwan Vithanage
scored his maiden century in only his third Test. By tea, Sri Lanka were already ahead by a healthy 370, but the captain Angelo Mathews held back the declaration till Jayawardene reached his milestone, giving Sri Lanka a seemingly unassailable lead of 498. Sri Lanka picked up a late wicket to cap another dominant day.
Bangladesh had been on the field since the final session on the first day and the physical and mental fatigue was apparent with the way they carried themselves on the third day, as if waiting to be told when to head indoors and pad up. Their specialist seamers weren't effective enough and their spinners too were at the mercy of Sri Lanka's in-form batting line-up. There was little the part-timers could do. It's normal for captains to give their bowlers at least an hour before stumps to nip out a few wickets, but Mathews adopted a more conservative approach and instead was happy to give the hosts nine overs. In that period, Bangladesh lost Tamim to a reckless shot.
Mathews had a chance to add to the centuries tally, before falling for 86. Jayawardene continued to milk the bowling in placid conditions and he brought out his signature late cut and paddle sweep against the spinners. Having begun his innings overnight, he brought up his fifty with an effortless cover drive off Al-Amin Hossain. He moved to the 90s with an impeccable reverse sweep off Sohag Gazi that went for a boundary. He sped towards his century with a late cut off the part-time legspinner Marshall Ayub and followed it up with another boundary in the same region, off Robiul Islam. The seamer dished out a long hop down the leg side which Jayawardene pulled to fine leg to bring up his century.
He barely gave the bowlers a chance, until he survived a close shout for lbw off Gazi on 119. Jayawardene attempted another reverse sweep and was struck adjacent to the stumps with the ball pitching in line with the stumps despite the round the wicket angle. Gazi was exasperated when it was turned down but it summed up Bangladesh's day.
Mathews too survived, when on 68 he edged Ayub and was dropped by the wicketkeeper Mushfiqur Rahim. Mathews capitalised on Robiul's poor length, pulling a short one down the leg side and driving the next one down the ground for consecutive boundaries. He had a century for the taking but chipped Gazi towards midwicket where Ayub took a sharp catch.
Vithanage made merry given the carefree situation and along with Jayawardene, helped take the score past 600. Vithanage made a fifty on debut
, against the same team last year in a similar pressure-free scenario. His inclusion in this Test was due to Prasanna Jayawardene's departure due to his father's death. And Vithanage made good use of this unexpected opportunity. The left-hander was busy at the crease, rocking back to cut the spinners through the off side when they dropped it short. He came down the track to the spinners and tonked two sixes down the ground.
The new ball didn't give Bangladesh any respite as a couple of short balls were dispatched for fours behind square leg by Vithanage, who brought up his fifty with one of those. Luck was on his side as two outside edges by Vithanage found the third man boundary, one of which bisected the keeper and first slip, both of whom were unmoved.
Vithanage brought up his ton with a square cut for four off Nasir and at that stage, Jayawardene was still 17 short of a double-century. Jayawardene batted with greater urgency after tea, shuffling across his stumps to sweep the spinners and he raced to his double-ton in style, with two sixes over deep midwicket off Nasir. Jayawardene, in the process, overtook the Australian Allan Border's tally of 11,174 runs and is now the sixth-highest run-getter in Tests.
Neither pace nor spin worked for Bangladesh, and their frustration in not being able to pick up wickets was summed up in one small passage of play in the morning when Robiul Islam exchanged words with Jayawardene, making the umpires and Rahim intervene to appease the situation.
They now face the task of batting out two days. Tamim's dismissal, caught off a leading edge to point, was perhaps the last thing they needed. The best they can do is take a leaf out of Sri Lanka's book and use the conditions to play themselves in and grind out the opposition.