Records tumbled on the third day in Galle with the draw now looking the most likely result following Mohammad Ashraful and Mushfiqur Rahim’s mammoth unbroken fifth-wicket stand. The pair batted throughout the final two sessions of the day, adding 261 in the process, as Bangladesh breezed past the follow-on target of 371 to close on 438 for four.
The day had begun with the tourists on 135 for two and, for a while Mominul Haque and Ashraful progressed with relatively few difficulties. However, Sri Lanka must have sensed their chance when they dismissed Mominul and new batsman Mahmudullah in consecutive overs midway through the morning session. Mominul’s debut innings ended at 55 when Nuwan Kulasekara angled a ball across him, taking the edge on its way to Angelo Mathews at slip. Mahmudullah then had a rush of blood before he had scored and charged at Rangana Herath and was smartly stumped by Dinesh Chandimal.
At that point, Bangladesh were 177 for four, still almost 200 runs short of the follow-on target. However, Ashraful and Rahim barely offered a chance for the remainder of the day as the home side struggled on a slow, flat pitch. The seamers were unable to get any meaningful swing of either the conventional or reverse variety, while Ajantha Mendis was innocuous and occasionally inaccurate and Herath largely unthreatening.
Ashraful did take his time and was generally more watchful than Rahim. He endured 35 agonising deliveries in the nineties before finally bringing up his sixth Test century - his fifth against Sri Lanka - with a drive off Mendis. Rahim went into tea on 92 and it wasn’t long before he too had reached three figures.
The final session was where the records started to fall. Ashraful broke his own record of 158 against India in 2004 to set a new benchmark as the highest score by a Bangladeshi, while the partnership advanced past Tamim Iqbal and Junaid Siddique’s 2010 effort of 200 to set a new national record for runs added for any wicket. Towards the end of the day, they also passed 416 - Bangladesh’s previous highest Test total overseas - and will fancy their chances of adding a couple more records tomorrow. Their highest Test total ever is 556 against the West Indies.
Bangladesh did announce an addition to their squad for the second Test in Colombo, which begins on 16th March. Left-arm spinner Abdur Razaak will join the squad, presumably with an eye to him replacing Elias Sunny, who was disappointing during the Sri Lankan first innings.
© Cricket World 2013
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