PALLEKELE: Sri Lanka were five wickets away from a series win against Bangladesh after the tourists were restricted to 177 for five at stumps on day four of the second Test at Pallekele on Sunday.
Chasing a daunting 437 to win, Bangladesh batsmen were troubled by Sri Lanka spinners Praveen Jayawickrama and Ramesh Mendis who took the five wickets on a crumbling wicket at the Pallekele International Cricket Stadium.
Sri Lanka set Bangladesh a formidable target of 437 by declaring their second innings on 194 for nine at the hill city of Pallekele. No team has reached such a large target in Test history.
The greatest run chase in the history of Test cricket is the 418 made by the West Indies against Australia in 2003 at St John’s in Antigua.
The most successful run chase at Pallekele, a picturesque hill resort, is 382 by Pakistan in 2015.
Should Bangladesh succeed in forcing a draw with 150 overs left in the game, Sri Lanka risk falling to their lowest world ranking.
Bangladesh, who are down to their last recognised pair, need another 260 runs to win with one full day’s play left.
Sri Lanka declared their second innings after lunch on 194 for nine and Bangladesh lost three wickets in the afternoon session finishing on 111 for three at tea.
Mendis claimed the big wicket of in-form opener Tamim Iqbal when he was caught behind by Niroshan Dickwella for 24. Debutante Jayawickrama, who took six wickets in the first innings, accounted for Saif Hassan and Najmul Hossain Shanto.
The delivery that dismissed Najmul pitched outside off stump, spun sharply, went through bat and pad and hit the top of leg-stump.
After tea, Bangladesh lost captain Mominul Haque, who chopped a Mendis delivery onto his stumps to leave his side struggling at 134 for four.
Earlier, Dimuth Karunaratne top scored with 66 runs as Sri Lanka declared their second innings on 194 for nine. The Sri Lankan captain finished the series with 428 runs in three innings, having scored a double hundred, a hundred and a half-century.
Bangladesh’s left-arm spinner Taijul Islam bagged his eighth five-wicket haul, for 72.
The first Test ended in a draw at the same venue after a festival of runs, the two sides scoring 1,289 for the loss of just 17 wickets over the five days.
SRI LANKA (1st Innings) 493 for 7 declared (H.D.R.L. Thirimanne 140, F.D.M. Karunaratne 118, B.O.P. Fernando 81; Taskin Ahmed 34.2-7-127-4).
BANGLADESH (1st Innings) 251 (Tamim Iqbal 92, Mominul Haque 49; P. Jayawickrama 32-7-92-6).
SRI LANKA (2nd Innings, overnight 17-2):
H.D.R.L. Thirimanne c Najmul b Mehidy 2
F.D.M. Karunaratne c sub b Mehidy 66
Oshada Fernando st Liton b Taijul 1
A.D. Mathews c sub b Taijul 12
D.M. de Silva c Najmul b Taijul 41
P. Nissanka c Shoriful b Taijul 24
N. Dickwella c Taijul b Taskin 24
W.R.T. Mendis c Tamim b Taijul 8
R.A.S. Lakmal b Taijul 12
P. Jayawickrama not out 3
EXTRAS (NB-1) 1
TOTAL (for nine wkts decl, 42.2 overs) 194
FALL OF WKTS: 1-14, 2-15, 3-39, 4-112, 5-124, 6-162, 7-178, 8-180, 9-194.
BOWLING: Mehidy Hasan 14-3-66-2; Shoriful Islam 1-0-8-0; Taijul Islam 19.2-2-72-5 (1nb); Taskin Ahmed 4-0-26-1; Saif Hassan 4-0-22-1.
BANGLADESH (2nd Innings):
Tamim Iqbal c Dickwella b Mendis 24
Saif Hassan c Lakmal b Jayawickrama 34
Najmul Hossain Shanto b Jayawickrama 26
Mominul Haque b Mendis 32
Mushfiqur Rahim c de Silva b Mendis 40
Liton Das not out 14
Mehidy Hasan not out 4
EXTRAS (B-3) 3
TOTAL (for five wkts, 48 overs) 177
FALL OF WKTS: 1-31, 2-73, 3-104, 4-134, 5-171.
BOWLING (to-date): Lakmal 4-2-14-0; Mendis 20-0-86-3; Jayawickrama 20-5-68-2; de Silva 4-0-16-0.
Published in Dawn, May 3rd, 2021