BartaBangla Desk »

gaul sportsBartaBangla Desk :: Three things are more or less taken for granted in a Galle Test – a Mahela Jayawardene century, a bagful of wickets for Rangana Herath and a win for Sri Lanka. For a change, none of these happened. Jayawardene was forced out of the series to injury, a benign pitch got the better of Herath and Sri Lanka had to live with a high-scoring draw, which had a record-equalling eight centuries from both sides over five sapping days of Test cricket. No team looked like closing out the game, but Bangladesh walked away with a moral victory, breaking country records, which included their first-ever 600-plus total. It was also their first draw against Sri Lanka, reports Cricinfo.
A draw was a foregone conclusion by the fourth afternoon and it only needed a brain-freeze from the batsmen in either side to produce a result. The fifth-day pitch was so flat, the batsmen might as well have been batting on the swanky Southern Expressway a short distance from the ground. It was a chance to boost batting averages, which Kumar Sangakkara and Tillakaratne Dilshan did by scoring centuries. Kithuruwan Vithanage, denied an opportunity to bat in the first innings, took guard in his debut Test in a pressure-free scenario and made a brisk fifty. Sri Lanka enforced a surprise declaration shortly before the scheduled tea break, hoping to spark some life in the final session but Bangladesh saw off the final moments without much trouble, losing a wicket. The situation was pointless enough for the captains to call it off an hour before stumps.
Sangakkara, returning from a finger injury, eased his way back with two centuries in the match. Dilshan helped himself to one too after missing out on the first innings, increasing the match century tally to eight, equaling the world record set by West Indies and South Africa in Antigua in 2005. There was not much turn and the bounce was consistent, making it easy for the batsmen to adapt quickly and build. Shahadat Hossain tried banging it in short to Sangakkara – like he did to dismiss Dimuth Karunaratne yesterday – who pulled with ease along the ground. Dilshan was prepared to use the crease to milk boundaries, punishing anything that was fractionally short.
Sangakkara offered a half chance when he edged Abul Hasan past the diving Mushfiqur Rahim, who didn’t have slip fielders to support him. Sangakkara followed that up with a couple of exquisite drives past cover to hasten towards a century. Dilshan reached his landmark – his 16th Test century – first with a clip to square leg, while Sangakkara got to his 32nd century with a punch to mid-off. Sangakkara made twin centuries in a Test for the first time, the sixth such occasion a Sri Lankan batsman had done so. Incidentally, the previous batsman to do so was his partner Dilshan, also against Bangladesh, in 2009.
Sangakkara fell shortly after lunch, pulling a short ball by Mahmudullah and taken neatly by Jahurul Islam falling to his right at short midwicket. Dilshan too fell going for an aggressive stroke, pulling Mahmudullah to deep square leg where Abul took the catch running to his left.
The batsman who had the most to gain was Vithanage. Fresh from his century against the Bangladeshis in Matara, he began with a confident punch for four off Sohag Gazi wide of extra cover. He had the audacity to reverse-sweep for a four down to third man, an indication both of his confidence and of the flatness of the pitch. He played the conventional sweep as well, imparting a lot of power behind the shot. Bangladesh were going through the motions, giving their part-time bowlers like Nasir Hossain a go, as there was no point tiring out the frontline bowlers. Vithanage was hardly challenged, pulling a six over deep midwicket off Nasir as he approached his fifty. He was eventually bowled playing on to Mahmudullah, who picked up all three wickets with freebie short deliveries, much to amusement of the bowler himself and his captain. With no milestones left to chase, Angelo Mathews saw no point in batting on and declared giving Bangladesh an improbable 268 to chase in one session.
The only surprise was the wicket of Anamul Haque, who misjudged the line from Shaminda Eranga, looked to defend rather late and chopped the ball onto the stumps. Jahurul and Mohammad Ashraful took the score to 70 and at 4pm, the Test was predictably called off.
The Bangladesh Cricket Board had recently announced incentives for the team to draw Tests and take games into the fifth day. They achieved that, but this Test will be remembered for the lopsided contest between bat and ball – 1613 runs for just 19 wickets. Sri Lanka will hope for a more sporting surface at the R Premadasa Stadium in Colombo, which hosts the second Test in four days’ time.

Share »

Leave A Reply