Spinners put Lanka in control on rain-hit day

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Bangladesh cricket captain Mushfiqur Rahim (R) looks back towards his wicket after being dismissed by unseen Sri Lankan spinner Rangan Herath as wicketkeeper Niroshan Dickwella looks on during the third day of the opening Test cricket match between Sri Lanka and Bangladesh at The Galle International Cricket Stadium in Galle on March 9, 2017. / AFP PHOTO / LAKRUWAN WANNIARACHCHI

Galle, Sri Lanka

Rain, and a 106-run seventh-wicket stand between Mushfiqur Rahim and Mehedi Hasan put the brakes on Sri Lanka’s advance in Galle, but loose dismissals from the Bangladesh top order had already gifted the hosts an imposing position. When the rains came to wash out the third session of day three, the first innings had been completed, and Sri Lanka led by 182 runs. Nevertheless, they may have to move quickly if they are to turn their dominance into a win – more rain is forecast for Friday and Saturday.
Bangladesh had begun the day with a little over a quarter of Sri Lanka’s score knocked off, for the loss of two wickets, but quickly did they unravel in the first session. Soumya Sarkar played the first poor stroke, swatting Suranga Lakmal heedlessly off his hips to pick out the fine leg fielder. Shakib Al Hasan batted positively for 18 deliveries, but got himself caught down the legside off the bowling of Lakshan Sandakan. Mahmudullah and Liton Das then both fell playing footless shots – Liton poking at Herath only to send slip a catch; Mahmudullah missing a straight ball from Lahiru Kumara, which had been angled in from wide of the crease.
Defying Sri Lanka, and fitting the innings with some semblance of a backbone, was Mushfiqur. He was largely passive through the first session, even as Sandakan sent down a feast of loose deliveries in between several unplayable ones. He scored only 21 runs in 70 balls as the four morning wickets fell, but became livelier after lunch. Herath was launched into the sightscreen in the first over of the session, and Mushfiqur rarely let a scoring opportunity slip by him over the next few overs: he’d score 47 runs in as many balls, hitting eight boundaries while completing a 16th career fifty. He went on to make 85.
Fresh from a good batting outing in Hyderabad, Mehedi fed off the senior man’s productivity, and compiled 41 runs of his own – venturing five boundaries in all. The partnership not only helped stem a collapse, but also eliminated the option of the follow-on. Sandakan and Kumara – Sri Lanka’s youthful wildcard bowlers – had helped rattle Bangladesh in the morning, but were perhaps guilty of the waywardness that allowed this stand to gain a foothold.
Once this partnership was broken, however, the end came swiftly, thanks in part to Dilruwan Perera, who was kept out of the attack for the first 40 overs, but made substantial impact when he did arrive. In his third over of the day, he nailed Mehedi in front of the stumps with a quicker ball that turned. Taskin was given not out when rapped on the pad next ball, but Herath reviewed that decision, and the ball was found to be taking out enough of leg stump to overturn that call. With No. 10 batsman Subashis Roy visibly uncomfortable at the crease, Mushfiqur attempted to farm the strike, but was perhaps caught in two minds when he came down the crease to Herath in the waning overs of the session. He could have hit Herath’s slider down the ground, but instead had the ball dip on it and slip beneath his bat and into off stump.
A break for bad-light came just before tea was scheduled to be taken, but before the rains could come down, a brief break in the clouds allowed the teams to play the two further deliveries required to wipe out the Bangladesh innings – Herath having Mustafizur Rehman freakishly caught at short leg. Both he and Perera finished with three wickets from the innings. The rain came just as the second innings was about to begin. An hour-long shower washed out the rest of the day.—AFP