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Sri Lankan resistance forces stalemate in Chattogram

  • Chandimal and Dickwella save the day for Lanka

Sri Lanka and Bangladesh shared four points each in the International Cricket Council (ICC) World Test Championship with a draw in the first Test of the two-match series which concluded yesterday (19) at Chattogram, formerly Chittagong, Bangladesh.

Some brilliant bowling from Bangladesh on the final day made things interesting in the Test. Taijul Islam led the Bangladeshi attack with guile and spin, and at 161/6, the home side would have fancied their chances to bowl the opposition out.

However, resistance from Dinesh Chandimal and Niroshan Dickwella, who put on an unbeaten 99-run stand for the seventh wicket, meant both teams had to settle for a draw.

Earlier in the match

The result means that Sri Lanka and Bangladesh remain rooted to the fifth and eighth spots respectively on the World Test Championship table.

Earlier in the match, Sri Lanka won the toss and opted to bat first.

The visitors posted 397 on the back of a brilliant century from Angelo Mathews. He came agonisingly close to a double century, falling one run short of it as he was the last Sri Lankan wicket to fall.

Nayeem Hasan, playing his eighth Test, recorded his second fifer and finished with his best innings figures of 6/105.

Solid Bangladesh reply

In reply, centuries from veterans Tamim Iqbal and Mushfiqur Rahim helped Bangladesh gain a 68-run lead. It was an innings to remember for Rahim, who scored his eighth Test hundred and en route became the first Bangladesh batter to score 5,000 Test runs.

On the final day, Bangladesh were in with a chance to bowl Sri Lanka out but Chandimal and Dickwella stood in their way with a patient, unbeaten partnership of 99 runs.

Mendis’ counterattack

Resuming the day on 39/2, still 29 runs behind Bangladesh, Kusal Mendis decided attack was the best form of defence and played a counter-attacking innings that quickly wiped out the deficit.

Mendis treated pace and spin with equal disdain – smashing Taijul for two fours in the very first over of the day before hitting Khaled Ahmed for three consecutive boundaries a few overs later.

Nayeem, who picked up six wickets in the first innings, wasn’t spared either as Mendis hit a four and a maximum.

Mathews fails in second innings

Taijul finally brought an end to the mayhem with a peach of a delivery that went through the gates, ending Mendis’ entertaining knock two runs short of a fifty.

Bangladesh spinners kept the pressure on the new batter, Mathews. In his attempt to break the shackles, Mathews smashed the ball straight back at the bowler and Taijul completed a great return catch to send the centurion from the first innings back for a 15-ball duck.

A close call for Sri Lanka

Dhananjaya de Silva and Dimuth Karunaratne ensured there were no more casualties going into lunch.

There were jitters in the Sri Lanka camp after lunch when Karunratne walked back after his fifty, with Taijul once again providing the breakthrough.

Dhananjaya followed him back to the hut as Sri Lanka were 161/6. At the time, Sri Lanka’s lead was only 75 and a couple more wickets would have given Bangladesh a sniff at victory.

Drawn with half hour to go

Thankfully for the visitors, Chandimal and Dickwella held the fort down, taking Sri Lanka to tea at 205/6.

They continued to make the bowlers toil even in the final session, with Dickwella soon getting to his half-century. Getting the result soon became a foregone conclusion and both teams decided to shake hands with more than an hour of play left.

The action now moves to Dhaka for the second Test which is set to commence next Monday (23).