Karunaratne, Dhananjaya send Tigers on a leather hunt

Dhaka — Bangladesh spent an entire day on the field but failed to take a wicket as hosts Sri Lanka piled on the runs in Kandy on day 4 before bad light stopped play in the first Test. The Tigers bowled 76 overs on Saturday and conceded 283 runs. An earlier stoppage together with the early call of stumps meant 14 overs were lost. Still, it was the fourth time that Bangladesh spent an entire day on the field without a wicket coming their way. Conversely, it was the sixth instance of Sri Lanka batting an entire day without losing a wicket.

Or put another way, the same two batsmen who walked on to the field at the start of the day’s play walking off with their wickets intact at stumps. For the fourth wicket, Sri Lankan captain Dimuth Karunaratne and all-rounder Dhananjaya de Silva have now posted 322 runs. At the end of day four, Karunarate remained unbeaten on a career-best 234, while Dhananjaya was batting at 154.

Bangladesh’s lead has now come down to 29 runs and would easily have been erased in all likelihood, if the overs weren’t lost. At one point there was even talk of the Sri Lankan captain eyeing a daring declaration with any sort of lead, to give the Bangladesh openers a short, uncomfortable period to survive on the fourth day itself.

Now the islanders might try to score some quick runs in the fifth morning and test Bangladesh’s nerves in the last two sessions.

Earlier, Bangladesh declared the first innings at 541/7 before lunch on day three.

Najmul Hossain Shanto and Mominul Haque dominated the first two days, hitting a century each. This was the first Test 100 for Najmul, and Mominul recorded his maiden away century in Tests.

Yet the way Dhananjaya and Karunaratne batted, with a clear purpose and scoring at a faster clip to try and make a match of it, should put things in perspective on a lifeless pitch that has been a graveyard for both set of bowlers -with only 10 wickets falling across 4 days.

Although chances of a result remain distant – neither batting line up  should fret too much over surviving a day or less on the surface at the Pallekele Stadium, Sri Lanka coach Mickey Arthur was buoyant at close of play, and openly talking up his team’s chances of forcing a result, if things go their way in the morning session.

“Pressure is a funny thing,” Arthur said, engaging in a bit of mind games with the opposition no doubt.

With no horrors in the pitch, and Sri Lanka set to be a bowler short after Lahiru Kumara picked up a hamstring injury, pressure may indeed be the one enemy Bangladesh must fight to keep at bay on the last day. UNB