Liton, Mushfiqur lead fightback after shaky start

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After getting the team off to a dream start with the ball, Sri Lanka bowlers were made to toil for the rest of the day by Liton Das and Mushfiqur Rahim in Dhaka.

Bangladesh recovered brilliantly after a horrid start and finished the day at 277/5, thanks to unbeaten tons from Liton Das (135*) and Mushfiqur Rahim (115*).

Seven overs into the game, Bangladesh’s decision to bat first after winning the toss seemed like a questionable one after they lost half their side for just 24 runs. It looked like Sri Lanka were going to wrap the innings up quickly before Das and Rahim displayed tremendous grit to not give a wicket away for the rest of the day.

At stumps, their partnership was worth 253, the highest sixth-wicket partnership for Bangladesh in Test cricket.

Kasun Rajitha drew first blood on the second ball of the match, sneaking through the gap between Mahmudul Hasan Joy’s bat and pad to disturb the stumps for a duck. Fellow opener Tamim Iqbal followed him back to the hut in the next over without troubling the scorers, with Asitha Fernando getting in on the act thanks to a great diving catch from Praveen Jayawickrama.

Skipper Mominul Haque responded with two boundaries but was guilty of hanging his bat to Fernando. Rajitha was on a hattrick in his fourth over after back-to-back wickets of Najmul Hossain Shanto and Shakib Al Hasan, the latter departing for a duck – the third of Bangladesh’s innings.

Das dealt with the hattrick ball and thus began Bangladesh’s day-long resistance against the Sri Lankan bowlers. Though both the batters were cautious in their approach, they found boundaries every now and then to keep the scoreboard ticking. Together they took Bangladesh to lunch at 66/5.

They started the second session in a lot more positive manner, smashing three boundaries in the first four overs. After taking Ramesh Mendis out of the attack with ten runs in the first over, Das and Rahim blunted the spin of Jayawickrama, forcing Sri Lanka skipper Dimuth Karunaratne to bring his pacers
back on.

The 20-plus over ball did not offer any help to the pacers as the batting duo continued to accumulate runs. Das got a reprieve when he was dropped by substitute Kamindu Mendis after falling for Fernando’s short-ball trap. He made full use of the lifeline, getting to his fifty with a boundary in the same over. Rahim too followed suit a few overs later, getting to his milestone with a four.

Bangladesh added 87 runs in total in the second session and went unscathed into tea at 153/5.

The pair continued to pile on the misery, with Sri Lanka running out of ideas to get rid of the set batters. After a few quiet overs to begin the third session, Das exploded with three boundaries against Jayawickrama, taking him to the nineties. He soon brought up his third Test ton in 149 balls.

Rahim, at the other end, was much reserved in his play and nudged singles and doubles en route to his second hundred of the series.

During their marathon innings, Das and Rahim also broke the record for the highest sixth-wicket partnership in Test cricket. Incidentally, Rahim was involved in the previous record partnership (191) with Mohammad Ashraful, which also came against Sri Lanka in 2007.

Sri Lanka took the new ball as soon as it became available, but Bangladesh looked untroubled in the five overs before stumps.

Bangladesh 1st innings

M. Hasan Joy b K. Rajitha                        00

T. Iqbal c P. Jayawickrama b A. Fernando     00

N. Hossain Shanto b K. Rajitha               08

M. Haque c N. Dickwella b A. Fernando         09

Mu. Rahim Not Out                                    115

S. Al Hasan lbw K. Rajitha                       00

L. Das Not Out                                            135

Extras (6b 3lb 0nb 0pen 1w)                  10

Total (85.0 overs)                                       277-5

Fall of Wickets : 1-0 Joy, 2-6 Iqbal, 3-16 Haque, 4-24 Shanto, 5-24 Al Hasan

To Bat: Saikat, Islam, Ahmed, Chowdhury

Bowling:  Kasun Rajitha 19-5-43-3, Asitha Fernando 17-2-80-2, Praveen Jayawickrama 29-9-81- 0, Ramesh Mendis 12- 0-41- 0, Dhananjaya de Silva 4-0-15-0, Dimuth Karunaratne 4-1-8-0