Kasun Rajitha sent back three of Bangladesh’s top five batters
At stumps, Bangladesh not only walked away relieved, they also were the happier side. From 24 for 5, having opted to bat in the second Test, they ended the opening day on 277 for 5 with twin centuries. Mushfiqur Rahim struck his second consecutive ton in the series, following his 105 in the high scoring draw in the opening Test with a 252-ball 115 while Litton Das this time around converted his start to a three-figure score to end with 135.
Ahead of the contest, head coach Chris Silverwood had heaped praises on Kasun Rajitha and Asitha Fernando. The pair once again were at their destructive best in the first session to nip out Bangladesh’s five batters inside the opening seven overs. Mahmudul Hasan Joy fell on the second delivery – bowled by Rajitha – before Tamim Iqbal fell in the second. Mominul Haque, who has managed just 61 in his previous five Tests, also fell cheaply with Najmul Hossain Shanto and Shakib al Hasan also not offering any resistance.
With their backs against the wall, Bangladesh needed a significant stand to help them resurrect their chances. Rahim and Litton batted out 469 deliveries to extend their association to an unbeaten 253. Bangladesh went to lunch at 66 for 5 and stabilized in the second session when the pair played out a wicketless session. At Tea, they were 153 for 5 with both batters past their fifties and set for a long haul. Sri Lanka were also left wondering about the what-ifs when Litton got a top edge while attempting a pull but the substitute fielder Kamindu Mendis couldn’t hold on to the opportunity and dropped the catch after the drinks break.
The 150-run stand came up in the 59th over and the desperation was clearly on from Sri Lanka’s end. They dropped a review against Rahim in the 62nd over as the bowlers struggled to create more opportunities. In the next over, Litton reached his century as sloppy backing up saw the batter pick up five runs to reach the landmark. He opened up even further in the 66th as he struck Fernando for a six and a four.
Though it took a while Rahim reached his century in the 76th off 218 deliveries. By then, the shoulders had already dropped in the Sri Lankan camp and it seemed the players were expecting a long battle ahead. Sri Lanka took the new ball as soon as it became available with Rahim taking a toll on Rajitha with consecutive boundaries. Litton was hampered by some eye issue as the day neared its end but managed to hold on to ensure he’s out there partnering Rahim on the second day to build Bangladesh’s advantage.