Dinesh Chandimal and Niroshan Dickwella dug deep with the Chattogram surface staying true to its nature of being a batting paradise as the first Test between Sri Lanka and Bangladesh ended in a draw. Things, however, could have been different if not for the pair’s dogged 99-run stand for the seventh wicket on the fifth and final day.
Having started the morning on a brisk note, Sri Lanka lost two wickets each on either side of the lunch interval to stumble to 161 for 6, with a narrow lead of 93. But both Chandimal and Dickwella showed grit and determination keeping the Bangladesh bowlers at bay for 203 deliveries to eke out a draw. Dickwella, more adventurous with his shot-making, brought up his 20th Test half-century and finished with an unbeaten 61 off 96 balls. Chandimal, on the other hand, was more measured during his 135-ball 39 not out. The two teams shook hands an hour before the scheduled close of play, with Sri Lanka on 260 for 6 in 90.1 overs.
The Bangladesh bowlers, particularly Taijul Islam and Shakib Al Hasan, stuck to their lines, but were unable to break the seventh-wicket stand. Taijul was the pick of the bowlers returning 4 for 82. Angelo Mathews was named Player of the Match for his 199 in the first innings.
It took Sri Lanka all of 24 balls to wipe off the 29-run deficit in the first session with Kusal Mendis taking the attack to Bangladesh. He 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 fours 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 Mendis 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 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.
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. 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.
Sri Lanka were staring down the barrel at that stage but Chandimal and Dickwella dug in to rescue the visitors.
Sri Lanka 1st innings 397 all out
Sri Lanka 2nd innings
Oshada Fernando Run Out Taijul Islam 19
D. Karunaratne c M. Haque b T. Islam 52
L. Embuldeniya b T. Islam 02
K. Mendis b T. Islam 48
A. Mathews c&b T. Islam 00
D. de Silva c M. Rahim b S. Al Hasan 33
D. Chandimal Not Out 39
N. Dickwella Not Out 61
Extras (0b 2lb 4nb 0pen 0w) 06
Total (90.1 overs) 260 for 6
Fall of Wickets: 1-36 Fernando, 2-39 Embuldeniya, 3-106 Mendis, 4-110 Mathews, 5-143 Karunaratne, 6-161 de Silva
Bowling: Nayeem Hasan 23-5-79-0, Khaled Ahmed 7-2-37-0, Shakib Al Hasan 25-5-58-1, Taijul Islam 34-9-82-4
Bangladesh 1st innings
M. Hasan Joy c N. Dickwella b A. Fernando 58
T. Iqbal b K. Rajitha 133
N. Hossain Shanto c N. Dickwella b K. Rajitha 01
M. Haque b K. Rajitha 02
M. Rahim b L. Embuldeniya 105
L. Das c N. Dickwella b K. Rajitha 88
S. Al Hasan c N. Dickwella b A. Fernando 26
N. Hasan c K. Mendis b D. de Silva 09
T. Islam c (Sub) b A. Fernando 20
S. Islam R. Out 03
K. Ahmed Not Out 00
Extras (4b 8lb 8nb 0pen 0w) 20
Total (170.1 overs) 465 all out
Fall of Wickets: 1-162 Joy, 2-172 Shanto, 3-184 Haque, 4-385 Das, 5-385 Iqbal, 6-421 Al Hasan, 7-439 Rahim, 8-450 Hasan, 9-465 Islam, 10-465 Islam
Bowling: Vishwa Fernando 8-0-42-0, Asitha Fernando 26-4-72-3, Ramesh Mendis 45-10-119-0, Lasith Embuldeniya 47-9-104-1, Dhananjaya de Silva 19-2-48-1, Kasun Rajitha 24.1-6-60-4, Kusal Mendis 1-0-8-0