Sri Lanka in driver's seat
by CricketArchive Staff Reporter

Event:Sri Lanka in Bangladesh 2008/09

DateLine: 5th January 2009


The Sri Lankan openers, Malinda Warnapura and Prasanna Jayawardene, began confidently, early on the third morning, putting on a 50-run partnership, and looking to build on the visitors' overnight lead of 189 runs. It took 11 overs for Bangladesh to strike, when Prasanna handed an easy catch to Shakib Al Hasan at short midwicket. It was captain Mohammad Ashraful's spin that did the trick, giving the hosts the important breakthrough, after the two had safely negotiated the seamers, Mashrafe Mortaza and Shahadat Hossain. Shahadat came back strongly, trapping Malinda Warnapura leg before the very next over, though replays showed the ball pitched outside the leg stump line and struck him on the base of the pads.


The new pair of Kumar Sangakkara and Mahela Jayawardene came in and steadied the innings and helped extend the lead past 250. Sangakkara was lucky as one of Shakib's ball kept low and missed the stumps by a whisker. Mashrafe then gave way to Enamul Haque jnr as Bangladesh turned to the spinners at both ends, with Ashraful sensing an opportunity to make further inroads before lunch.


Sangakkara was stroking the ball fluently and was looking in good rhythm, while Mahela was very quiet as he prodded and plodded along. Mahela's innings looked a complete contrast to his commanding performance at Mirpur. He appeared uncomfortable, particularly against Shahadat Hossain after taking a blow to the hips off a short delivery. That rattled him as Shahadat began to grow in confidence and two overs later the bowler nearly had his man, as the ball nearly rolled on to the stumps after clipping Mahela's pads.


Sangakkara though, continued in confident fashion, as he neared his fifty. But the 68-run stand finally came to an end when Mahela tamely chipped a catch to Imrul Kayes at short cover off Enamul. On a track that provided spin and bounce, Bangladesh captain Mohammad Ashraful could well have done with a little more penetration in a search to level the series. He led from the front, though, dismissing Kumar Sangakkara just before tea who looked shell shocked at his dismissal. But then the Bangladeshi bowlers were rendered ineffective by Samaraweera and Dilshan.


Ashraful tried all the tricks up his sleeves though his resources were limited but all were blunted. Dilshan batted the way he knew and Samaraweera supported him well. Dilshan was again aggressive but compared to his first innings it could be classified as a more sedate knock. When Dilshan came to the crease following the wicket of Sangakkara, there was some life in the proceedings. Both Samaraweera and Dilshan added 131 runs for the fifth wicket with the lead going beyond 450. They will be looking at a lead of more that 550 before declaring. With the pitch taking some spin, Mendis and Muralitharan will be handful for the Bangladeshi batsmen.







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