He made that intent quite clear, after dispatching Rangana Herath over his head for a six in the first over on resumption of play in the second session. On Thursday (March 9) at the Galle International Stadium, Mushfiqur stitched a record century-stand with Mehedi Hasan, but fell right on the brink of Tea, which had to be taken five minutes prior to the scheduled time as bad light stopped play. The visitors went into the break on 312 for 9, still trailing by 182.
The Bangladesh skipper knew he held the key after all his top batsmen – Shakib Al Hasan, Mahmudullah, Soumya Sarkar and Litton Das – fell in the morning session. Mehedi, with his fair share of luck, surviving two chances, was an able partner to his skipper as the duo slowly and steadily, rebuilt the innings after resuming play on 213 for 6. They went on to add 106 runs before Mehedi’s luck ran out as he was trapped flush by Dilruwan Perera. The skipper’s assessment was spot on as he knew there was no point referring it and the young offie departed for a well-made 41. The record stand, which was Bangladesh’s second-highest for the seventh wicket against Sri Lanka and their best for the same wicket in the island country, lasted 24.4 overs. What turned the tables around, after a morning session where runs were hard to come by, was the rate at which the runs were scored – 4.29.
Perera made a loud appeal against Taskin Ahmed on the next ball. On-field umpire Marais Erasmus was unmoved, but Sri Lanka decided to refer it. The review showed three reds and the decision was overturned in favour of the hosts as dark clouds loomed large. Taskin had to take the long walk back, while Mushfiqur was running out of partners, approaching a century. Subashis Roy held his end rather well, fending off whatever was thrown his way.
However, when on 85, Mushfiqur was beaten by Herath’s flight. The Bangladesh skipper wanted to step down, but the wily spinner, on a fullish length pushed the slider through and the ball went past the inside edge to rattle the stumps. Early Tea was called the next over as umpires called off play due to bad light.
After Bangladesh made a stellar start on the second day notching up a 118-run stand for the opening wicket, which was the highest-ever for their side against the hosts, they lost four in the opening session for 80 to go into Lunch at 213 for 6. Sri Lanka, who had the momentum coming into the day, struck early to send back the set batsman Soumya Sarkar for 71. Suranga Lakmal cramped Sarkar for space, who was in no control of the pull shot that soared straight into the hands of Lahiru Kumara at fine leg. Sarkar, who was handed a reprieve on the previous day, threw away all the hard work and had to make the long walk back with Bangladesh having added just nine from where they resumed.
That Bangladesh managed to score just 80 runs in the opening session on the day despite Sri Lanka having been really poor in the field was a reflection on how hard they were made to work for their runs. Shakib, who joined Mushfiqur in the middle, kept the scoreboard ticking for the duration of his stay. That stand between the two was crucial for Bangladesh if they had to get anywhere close to Sri Lanka’s mammoth score of 494.
A soft dismissal, however, brought an end to the all-rounder’s stay after he was strangled down the leg side and Niroshan Dickwella pulled off a sharp catch. Shakib was disappointed by the method of his dismissal after the strong start. He followed the wrong ‘un that went the other way, and got an edge that the ‘keeper safely pouched as Lakshan Sandakan struck after having kept the Bangladeshi batsmen on their feet for all of the last session yesterday. He departed for a 19-ball 23, having added 28 with Mushfiqur.
Lakmal peppered Bangladesh with short balls, while the batters struggled to keep the score ticking. However, it was Kumara whose ploy reaped rewards. Having kept it short for most part, he then bowled a fuller delivery to send the offstump cartwheeling as Mahmudullah missed the line completely. Herath, who had no wicket until that point, struck three overs later, as Litton Das edged to slip where Asela Gunaratne obliged with a sharp catch. The lack of feet movement from the batsman did him in as he departed for 5. While Mushfiqur held his end, the other batsmen failed to give him company in the middle as Bangladesh slumped to losing four in the session.
Mehedi was handed a life just on the brink of Lunch, when on 9, as Gunaratne dropped him in the slips after having not been able to get his hands up in time. The batsman went after a wide delivery that was moving away off Sandakan.
Brief scores: Sri Lanka 494 (Kusal Mendis 194, Asela Gunaratne 85, Niroshan Dickwella 75, Dilruwan Perera 51; Mehedi Hasan 4-113) & 0/0 lead Bangladesh 312 (Tamim Iqbal 57, Soumya Sarkar 71, Mushfiqur Rahim 85; Dilruwan Perera 3-53) by 182 runs.