Bangladesh made a memorable comeback in their 100th Test as their last five wickets nearly batted through the entire day. Shakib Al Hasan was at the centre of it all, making his fifth century in the format and ensuring his team took the first-innings lead for only the second time while batting second away from home.
When they were bowled out for 467, Bangladesh had pulled ahead by 129 runs and had just enough time for a quick burst at Sri Lanka’s openers too. Dimuth Karunaratne and Upul Tharanga, though, were able to withstand the hostility and reach stumps at 54 for 0. That the hosts were forced to play catch up in Colombo – they were still 75 runs behind – was largely because of Shakib.
With Bangladesh starting the day 214 for 5 and 124 runs away from parity, they needed a senior batsman to show them the way. Shakib took the responsibility and the most striking aspect of his innings was that though he didn’t necessarily bat slowly, he didn’t play too many reckless shots. He persevered through the quiet periods to make a substantial contribution, one that he might remember for a long time considering the landmark occasion.
Sri Lanka might remember it too, much to their chagrin, because they had dropped him on 11 and 67 and missed a run-out attempt when he was on 40.
Mushfiqur Rahim also made an important contribution, hitting a half-century of his own and sharing in a 92-run partnership with Shakib. It was broken by Suranga Lakmal, who armed with the second new ball, induced a false shot and bowled the Bangladesh captain through the gate. If Sri Lanka had thought they might roll the rest of the batting line-up over, considering it was just a debutant and the tail to follow, they were in for an unpleasant surprise.
The 21-year old Mosaddek Hossain showed great application to make 75 off 155 balls in his first Test innings to propel the total past 450. With plenty of their batsmen stepping up, Bangladesh added 102 runs in the first session, a further 112 in the middle session and each time they lost only one wicket.
Galle 2013 was the first time in Bangladesh’s history that they had taken a first-innings lead batting second in an away Test but with Shakib and Mosaddek’s 131-run stand for the seventh wicket, they were able to emulate that feat in Colombo.
Sri Lanka had an entry into the record books as well. Rangana Herath became only the second man from his country to take 1000 first-class wickets. He claimed the record by trapping Mustafizur Rahman lbw and finished with 4 for 82 in 24.1 overs. Left-arm wristspinner Lakshan Sandakan also finished with a four-for.
Given the slowness of the P Sara pitch so far, the fate of the Test now depends on which team can hold their nerve better. Sri Lanka had done well to get through to the end of play without any mishaps – although Karunaratne did give a chance, tickling Subashis Roy down the leg side only for the wicketkeeper Mushfiqur to fumble a very difficult catch – but if Bangladesh’s bowlers can match the discipline shown by their batsmen they can look forward to causing some damage on the fourth day.—AFP