Taijul Islam and Shakib Al Hasan struck once each but some staunch defence from Dinesh Chandimal and Niroshan Dickwella wrested back any advantage Bangladesh had as the first Test, in Chattogram headed towards a draw on Thursday. At tea on the fifth and final day, Sri Lanka reached 205 for 6, leading the hosts by 137 runs. Chandimal was unbeaten on 14 and had Dickwella for company on 32.
The two left-arm spinners bowled unchanged for 22 overs after lunch but with the surface not breaking enough, both Chandimal and Dickwella averted any further damage, crafting an unbeaten 44-run stand for the seventh wicket. From Bagladesh’s viewpoint, the new ball will be due after seven overs and they will hope to make some inroads post the break.
Sri Lanka, ahead by 60 runs at lunch, started off after the break on a positive note collecting seven runs from each of the first two overs. Karunaratne reached his 28th half-century with a thick outside edge off Shakib Al Hasan. However, his joy was short-lived as he fell soon after to Taijul. Going the aggressive route, Karunaratne skipped down the track but his mistimed flick could only travel as far as Mominul Haque at midwicket, who completed a good catch diving to his right.
Dhananjaya de Silva continued taking the attacking option and he did succeed to an extent before falling to a rank long-hop for 33. Shakib, to his credit, floated the short of a length delivery, enticing the batter, who took the bait and pulled straight to Mushfiqur Rahim. Shakib could have had another wicket the very next ball but Dickwella’s sweep just evaded a leaping Taijul at backward square.
At 161 for 6 and ahead by only 93 runs, Sri Lanka were staring down the barrel but Chandimal and Dickwella dug in. Chandimal, in particular curbed his aggressive instinct and defended everything that came his way against some tight bowling. Dickwella, too, was impressive during his stay. He brought out the sweep at regular intervals, used his feet on occasion, but more importantly, blocked well. While Chandimal shut shop, Dickwella made sure the runs kept coming.
Earlier, two key strikes from Taijul in the morning session made sure Bangladesh stayed ahead in the game on day five. For the longest time in the first session, Sri Lanka were in control of proceedings with runs coming thick and fast but Taijul removed Kusal Mendis and Angelo Mathews in quick succession to dent the visitors.
Resuming the final day on 39 for 2, it took Sri Lanka all of 24 balls to wipe off the 29-run deficit with Kusal taking the attack to Bangladesh. Sri Lanka’s approach was clear from the first over. Kusal was the aggressor while Karunaratne, more circumspect in his approach, rotated the strike well as runs came at a premium in the first hour of the morning.
Kusal started off the day by clattering Taijul for two fours in the first over before slamming Khaled Ahmed for a hattrick of four either side of the wicket as Sri Lanka scored 59 runs in the first nine overs of the first session. It did not help that Bangladesh were a bowler short with Shoriful Islam ruled out of the series, after fracturing his right hand courtesy a Kasun Rajitha bouncer late on day three.
Shakib and Taijul then restored some parity with the latter striking twice. He first removed Kusal with a peach of a delivery that pitched on middle stump to turn and trim the off bail for a 43-ball 48 before accounting for Angelo Mathews with a stunning return catch for a duck. Mathews, who was visibly frustrated having not scored for 14 balls launched a straight drive back at Taijul, who somehow got both hands to it and completed the catch above his head. (Cricinfo)