At Galle, March 8-12, 2013. Drawn. Toss: Sri Lanka. Test debuts: K. D. K. Vithanage; Anamul Haque, Mominul Haque.
Galle routinely hosts the first Test of a series, and tends to reprise a familiar plot: a hundred for Mahela Jayawardene, a heavy haul for Sri Lanka's ace spinner, and a win that seats the home side comfortably for the next match. But not this time - and, on an uncharacteristically placid pitch, Bangladesh emerged the happier.
Not only was it their first Test draw against Sri Lanka, after 12 straight defeats, only one of which had lasted into the fifth day. But Bangladesh also reached 600 for the first time in a Test innings, and recorded their two highest individual scores - including their first double-century - as well as an all-wicket record partnership of 267. By the end, the fact that they had conceded 570 inside the first five sessions had been all but forgotten.
The meat in Bangladesh's historic reply was supplied by Mohammad Ashraful and Mushfiqur Rahim, who on the third day put together only their country's second double hundred stand. For a while, it was Ashraful who seemed poised to score that 200, having passed his own national record and eschewed the flashy strokeplay that had defined his promising early years but which, in more recent times, had often caused his downfall. He was parked on 189 at stumps, but rushed at Herath early next day and was caught at slip.
Still, his first international century for four years launched a fruitful tour. Instead, it was Mushfiqur who was to celebrate the milestone no compatriot had achieved, getting there shortly after lunch on the fourth day. It was an innings full of calculation and prudence, and he scored heavily square of the wicket on both sides, employing the cut and square-drive to good effect against the fast bowlers, who grew wayward during their long stint in the field. With the pitch lacking any pace, and the bounce steadily getting lower, the pull was another of Mushfiqur's favourites. He did not offer a chance until Kulasekara trapped him with the next ball he faced after reaching 200.
But Bangladesh were not done, and Nasir Hossain pushed on past their previous-highest total - 556 against West Indies at Mirpur four months earlier - to complete a maiden Test hundred. It was the first time Bangladesh had compiled three in one innings. And it was the longest they had batted, a full 196 overs by the time they were bowled out at tea on the fourth day.
The exceptional batting conditions had been designed to give the inexperienced members of Sri Lanka's top order a gentle ride. And, after Mathews had won the toss, Thirimanne and Chandimal reached maiden hundreds, before Sangakkara equalled Jayawardene's national record of 31 Test centuries, in his first innings since breaking his hand at Melbourne in December. Sri Lanka declared at 570 for four, little expecting that they would concede a deficit of 68.