By Shehan Daniel
Redeeming themselves from the collapse late on day two that saw them lose three wickets for six runs, Bangladesh produced an excellent recovery on day three of the second test at the P. Saravanamuttu Stadium on Friday – Shakib Al Hasan’s fifth Test ton and his 131-run seventh wicket partnership with debutant Mossadek Hossain frustrating the hosts for much of the day.
Sri Lanka made a strong start to their second innings, ending on 55 for no loss after 13 overs, with Dimuth Karunaratne and Upul Tharanga both unbeaten on 25.
After being bowled out for 467 mid-way through the final session, Bangladesh were unable to make a dent in Sri Lanka’s reply, though it was not for the lack of a chance to. Karunaratne gloved the ball down the leg side in the seventh over but keeper Mushfiqur Rahim diving to his right couldn’t hold on to the difficult chance. Karunaratne had another lucky escape in the final over of play when the ball flew off the glove and landed in no-man’s land, Sri Lanka ending the day with a deficit of 74 runs.
The momentum Sri Lanka had gained at the end of the previous day was brought to a screeching halt by Shakib and Rahim who together scored 61 runs and reduced the deficit to 63 inside the first hour of play on Friday.
Sri Lanka failed to create many opportunities and barring a missed runout chance and a review that was struck down, the pair looked in complete control reaching their half-centuries with relative ease.
Shakib, who had come to the crease when Bangladesh hit an air pocket and were reduced to 192 for 4, steadied the innings and helped take the visitors past Sri Lanka’s score en route to his first Test century against the hosts.
Playing a masterful innings, Shakib reached his century in 143 balls, with just nine boundaries, as he and captain Rahim controlled the Sri Lankan bowling in a low risk partnership that produced few openings for breakthroughs.
The pair brought up their 50-run partnership in just 71 balls with Rahim reaching his half-century in 66 balls, at the end of the 77th over, and Shakib reaching his fifty nine overs later. In between, in the second over with the second new ball – taken as soon as it was available at the end of the 80th over – Rahim played down the wrong line and edged the ball onto his stumps. The dismissal ended a partnership that had taken Bangladesh to within 48 runs of the Sri Lankan total, but more importantly had wrestled the game away from the hosts.
There was more frustration to come for the home team, as Hossain and Shakib took Bangladesh to lunch on 316 for 6, and then wiped out the remaining deficit after, edging past Sri Lanka’s total with a boundary which also brought up the half-century partnership between the pair.
21 year-old Hossain, batting with temperament well beyond his years, reached his fifty in the 108th over, his six boundaries and one six a display of prodigious skill.
Shakib then reached his century when he scored his ninth boundary, a sweep to the fine leg, getting their in the 143rd delivery he faced.
Their partnership was finally broken when Shakib, on 116, failed to clear the mid-off fielder, drilling the ball straight at Dinesh Chandimal who managed to hold onto a tricky catch.
Hossain went on to strike a partnership of 33 with Mehedi Hasan Miraz, before Hasan was out leg before wicket to Rangana Herath. Hasan chose to review umpire S. Ravi’s decision, but replays confirmed that the on-field decision was correct.
The left-arm spinner had Mustafizur Rahman also trapped leg before off the next ball – his 1000th First Class wicket – before Hossain was the last wicket to fall when Herath had him stumped by Niroshan Dickwella for 75. Herath finished with four wickets for 140 runs.
Leg spinner Lakshan Sandakan, speaking to the media after day’s play said that the slowness of the wicket made it challenging to bowl on.
“The wicket became a bit slow, and when the newness of the ball goes, there’s nothing much from the pitch. You have to toil a bit here and work hard. Rangana aiya and Dilruwan aiya bowled in good spots and put good pressure on them, and that’s why we were able to get them out. Suranga aiya also bowled really well, because it’s not a pitch that favours quicks and he did that job really well,” he said.