By Shehan Daniel
It would have been remembered as a milestone Test match regardless of the result, but now it will also be remembered as one of their greatest wins. Playing their 100th Test, Bangladesh held their nerve to chase down the 191-run target and record a memorable win against Sri Lanka on the final day of the second Test at P. Saravanamuttu Stadium yesterday, sharing the two-test series – their first win against the opposition.
It was also just their fourth Test win away from home and ninth overall. In getting there Bangladesh had to ride out a testy final session with Sri Lanka trying to pry out the six remaining wickets and, despite losing two of them, captain Mushfiqur Rahim and Mehedi Hasan Miraz took the visitors home by four wickets.
A commanding half-century from Tamim Iqbal and an equally controlled innings from Sabbir Rahman ensured Bangladesh would not squander the opportunity of a rare away Test win – an opportunity they had earned by restricting Sri Lanka to a tricky but gettable target of 191 – with Hasan hitting the winning runs in the 58th over of the innings.
Rahim called it ‘a great win’ for Bangladesh and said that after the defeat in Galle in the first Test, he was confident that if they executed their plans the result would come.
“After losing the first test we knew if we play to our potential we know we are good enough to beat this side. Even though they beat us quite convincingly in Galle, we thought if we execute those plans in the middle, the result will come and the boys showed that. Really happy for the win because it’s a hard fought win. So, hopefully in the future if we find ourselves in this situation the boys will handle it more easily,” he said.
“I thought we played better cricket than them the last five days and after losing the toss our bowlers did a great job in the first innings and even yesterday. The way Mustafizur (Rahman) and Shakib (Al Hasan) bowled on that flat track – the way they bowled in that session on Saturday – we took five wickets, (and) they were on the back foot at that moment. After that we just needed the momentum and (to) believe we can chase whatever target (they set us). (We were confident that) 250 was chaseable. Tamim (Iqbal) batted well, and Sabbir (Rahman) also batted well. It’s a great win for Bangladesh.”
An unfazed Iqbal struck seven boundaries and a six and absorbed some early pressure before striking up a partnership of 109 with Rahman, erasing most of what Bangladesh had to chase.
Herath made two early dents in the chase, dismissing Soumya Sarkar and Imrul Kayes in consecutive deliveries of the eighth over. Sarkar charged down the wicket, but couldn’t quite reach the ball at its length, and skied a leading edge to long off fielder Upul Tharanga. The next ball Kayes helped a ball that was moving away from him to slip fielder Asela Gunaratne putting Bangladesh at a nervy 22 for 2.
Iqbal and Rahman, however, took on the fixing job and saw Bangladesh to 38 for 2 at lunch, requiring a further 153 runs to win. The pair remained resilient after the break, and continued to pick the gaps and chip away at the target, with Iqbal taking Bangladesh past the 100-run mark when he cracked Lakshan Sandakan over the long off boundary for six in the 30th over.
It seemed only an error on the part of the batsmen would spring a wicket for the hosts and so it proved, when, seven overs later, Iqbal was caught for 82. Attempting a lofted shot he only sent it sky-high, with Dinesh Chandimal taking a well-judged catch at deep mid-on – Bangladesh 131 for 3 at that stage.
Rahman fell 12 runs later, shortly before the tea break, giving Sri Lanka a glimmer of hope but Man of the Series Shakib Al Hasan and Rahim put on 19 runs, taking the Bangladeshis even closer to the target. Two more wickets – that of Shakib and Mossadek Hossain – proved too little too late as Sri Lanka were condemned to one of the worst defeats in their Test history.
Sri Lanka captain Rangana Herath said he felt the score was defendable but that Bangladesh grew with confidence which saw them through.
“I thought that we could defend (the target). We have played games with India and Pakistan and defended low scores. So having three spinner I was confident that we could pull it off. We got two early wickets but after lunch they were attacking and the game slipped away from us,” Herath said. “They have certainly improved a lot. Earlier when they got partnerships going, they didn’t take pressure well. Now they counter our plans and they have been very clever. If you take the second innings we were batting well. After Upul got out, Dimuth and Kusal Mendis were going great and then we lost five wickets for 40 runs. That was the key. That turned the game. That shouldn’t have happened. That started our collapse”
Earlier the overnight pair of Dilruwan Perera and Suranga Lakmal added vital runs, with the 139-run lead that Sri Lanka began the day with growing to 190 before Bangladesh picked up the last two wickets that stood between them and a target.
Perera gifted his wicket when he attempted a run off a mis-field soon after reaching his fourth Test fifty, before Lakmal holed out in the next over, caught at long-off.