Monday, 20 March 2017 10:10

Sri Lanka’s darkest hour in Test cricket-lose to Bangladesh

Sri Lanka captain Rangana Herath and his counterpart from Bangladesh Mushfiqur Rahim share the Joy Bangla Cup after receiving it from Sri Lanka Cricket secretary Mohan de Silva.

The two-match series was drawn 1-all. Pictures by Susantha Wijegunasekera
Sri Lanka has been a Test playing nation for 17 years and never have they suffered such humiliation as losing a Test match to a country ranked lower than them when Bangladesh won the second Test by four wickets to draw the two-match series played for the Joy Bangla trophy one-all at the P Sara Oval yesterday. Sri Lanka won the first Test played at Galle by 259 runs.

Chasing 191 for a historic win in their 100th Test, Bangladesh recovered from a mild hiccup when they lost two wickets at the score on 22 to post a handsome victory after tea on the fifth and final day with the winning hit coming off the bat of teenager Mehedi Hasan when he swept Sri Lanka skipper Rangana Herath to square leg for a couple to signal jubilation in the Bangladesh camp. Non striker Mushfiqur Rahim, the captain was so overjoyed that he ran across to hug his partner in celebration.

Only three countries have won their 100th Test before Bangladesh – Australia, West Indies and Pakistan. For Bangladesh this win was special because it showed how much they have improved as a Test nation. Yesterday’s win comes on the back of their first Test victory against Alastair Cook’s England achieved in October last year at Dhaka where Mushfiqur Rahim’s men drew the two-Test series 1-all.

By beating Sri Lanka away from home Bangladesh have proved that they are no longer the pushovers in Test cricket they used to be, but a team to be respected. It was their ninth win overall and their fourth overseas – after West Indies (2) and Zimbabwe (1) and first win over Sri Lanka in 18 attempts. Bangladesh displayed their character by coming from losing the first Test at Galle to turn tables on a Sri Lanka side that was expected to complete a 2-0 win of the series. What the one-all series draw reflects is that all is not well with Sri Lanka cricket despite the wealth of experts Sri Lanka Cricket has in their support staff hired at great expense. Unless some radical actions are taken and changes made to uplift their game Sri Lanka will struggle to beat teams like Bangladesh, Afghanistan and Ireland (in the ODIs) at international level. These countries deploying past cricketers and coaches from developed countries are fast catching up and Sri Lanka cannot find themselves lagging behind.

To be beaten in a home Test can be galling especially against Bangladesh and Sri Lanka will be licking their wounds of what might have been after letting their opponents off the hook on the third evening when Upul Tharanga spilled that vital catch at deep mid wicket that saw Shakib Al Hasan progress from 11 to 116 and help his team gain a valuable first innings lead of 129 that later turned out to be decisive.

Bangladesh’s run chase was spearheaded by opener Tamim Iqbal who hit a superb 82 off 124 balls inclusive of seven fours and a six to take the Man of the Match award.

Tamim fell trying to force the pace which was not required at that moment because there was plenty of overs in hand for Bangladesh to press for the win. He attempted a big hit off Dilruwan Perera and holed out to long on where Dinesh Chandimal held on to a difficult catch.

Tamim figured in an important partnership of 109 for the third wicket with Sabbir Rahman (41) after Herath on his 39th birthday had threatened to create panic among the Bangladesh batting by snapping up the wickets of Soumya Sarkar (10) and Imrul Kayes (0) off successive deliveries to have them two down for 22.

However unlike in the past Bangladesh batsmen held their nerve although they lost a further three wickets in getting to their target.

It was important that skipper Mushfiqur remained in the middle until victory was achieved.

Sri Lanka added a 51 runs for their last two wickets before they were bowled out for 319. Their ninth wicket pair of Dilruwan Perera and Suranga Lakmal stretched their partnership to worth 80 runs – a new partnership record for the series before being parted.

The stand was ended by Perera being run out for a hard fought half century scored off 174 balls with six fours.

Lakmal was out soon afterwards holing out to Musaddaq Hossain for 42 scored off 48 balls (4 fours) giving Shakib four wickets in the innings. Shakib Al Hasan was named Man of the Series.

The two teams move to Dambulla to commence a three-match ODI series starting on March 25.(Daily News)


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