Sri Lanka remain in firm control of the first Test against Bangladesh in Galle. However, Bangladesh did have the better of the final session as Mohammad Ashraful began his umpteenth international comeback by hitting a fluent half-century. At the close of day two Bangladesh still trail by 435 runs after closing on 135 for two.
The first part of the day had easily belonged to Sri Lanka as they motored on in their first innings before declaring on 570 for four thanks to centuries from Dinesh Chandimal and Lahiru Thirimanne. Shaminda Eranga then dispatched Jahurul Islam in the nine overs that Bangladesh faced before tea.
Sri Lanka lost Angelo Mathews just four overs into the day, caught and bowled by Abul Hasan, as Bangladesh’s seamers bowled better than they had on day one, at least initially. Hasan, Shahadat Hossain and Sohag Gazi then each had Chandimal dropped, all before he had reached 20.
This was to prove exceptionally costly for the tourists as Chandimal led Sri Lanka’s charge towards the inevitable declaration. He was the aggressor during his unbroken fourth-wicket partnership of 203 with Thirimanne.
Thirimanne, unbeaten on 74 overnight, was the first to reach his maiden Test hundred despite slowing down while passing through the nineties. He notched up three figures from 193 balls and would go on to pass his previous highest first-class score of 148. Chandimal was much more carefree and reached three figures in the afternoon, having taken a mere 136 deliveries. He was dropped again, for the fourth time, on 112, but by then it had ceased to matter and the declaration followed not long afterwards.
Bangladesh supporters must have feared for their side when opener Jahurul Islam gloved a bouncer from Eranga through to Chandimal in the eighth over of their reply. However, Ashraful showed all of his experience and partnered Bangladesh’s two debutants in crucial stands. His second-wicket partnership with Anamul Haque was worth 42 before Anamul was bowled by Ajantha Mendis for a strokeless 13 off 68 balls.
Mominul Haque found things a little easier and, coming off the back of an innings of 99 in the warm-up match against an Emerging Players XI, played the spin pair of Rangana Herath and Mendis with relative ease.
Ashraful did likewise and looked a class act during his unbeaten 65, again posing the question as to just why he has had such a largely unfulfilling Test career to date. He has, though, never struggled for runs against Sri Lanka and averages over 40 against them compared to a career average of 22.6. When in form, he is one of the most elegant players in world cricket and Bangladesh will hope that he reaches three figures and goes well beyond tomorrow as they chase down the follow-on target of 371.
© Cricket World 2013
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