It is a sweet dilemma indeed. When someone watches their team play, it is only natural that they are ruled by patriotic fervour in wishing for the opposition's demise and failure. But when a player like Kumar Sangakkara bats like he did yesterday, it transcends such partisanship and all watchers unite into a grateful audience to a spectacle. One is simply mesmerised by the beauty of a performer, or in other words entertainer, and yesterday was no exception for those who watched the mastery of batting from one of the world's most prolific run-scorers.
It's general practice to detail the match scenario at the end of the day's play and here Sri Lanka once again piled up a huge 587 in their first innings and then took the vital wicket of Tamim Iqbal in the very first over as the local hero succumbed to low bounce from Suranga Lakmal. At the end of the day, the home side were lucky to not have lost another wicket to finish the day at 86 for one as Nuwan Pradeep dropped an easy catch to ensure Imrul Kayes remained unbeaten on 36.
Shakib Al Hasan also returned with a five-wicket haul but these are mere facts as there was only one song to sing which was the batting and achievements of the left-handed maestro Sangakkara. On way to his maiden triple-hundred -- only the third Sri Lanka batsman to achieve the feat -- the left-hander triumphed many individual milestones; matching Brain Lara's double-hundred count of nine to sit at joint-second on the list behind Don Bradman and becoming the fastest man to 11000 Test runs, overcoming Lara's record by five innings.
The statistics will be remembered forever, but they are all by-products of brilliant batsmanship on a slow and low track. The phrases 'unflagging work ethic' and 'self-improvement' epitomise Sangakkara over a 14-year career and these qualities were showcased magnificently at the Zohur Ahmed Chowdhury Stadium.
Resuming the day on 160, the left-hander took a different strategy by playing drives rather than his favourite pull shots like he played on the first day. It was hardly a batsman's paradise to score big at will as there was variable bounce, with many deliveries pitching on a length and passing no higher than shin-height, but Sangakkara negotiated with the poor Bangladesh bowling attack with level-headed aggression.
Interestingly, Sangakkara made more than a hundred runs in the company of the last three batsmen after his side lost their last recognised batsman midway through the first session.
Nasir Hossain finally stopped him and stopped the Sri Lanka run spree. “Everyone wanted to get that wicket, because it was the last wicket and it felt good because Sangakkara is such a big player. At one point it seemed like he would score 300 then after that it seemed like he would score 400, but we were adamant we wouldn't let him do that,” was the reaction from the part-time spinner.
But Bangladesh must regret their submissive bowling which led to the first ever triple-century scored against them in Tests.
Tamim Iqbal, in-charge on the field as Mushfiqur Rahim sustained an injury to the little finger of his left hand on the first day, placed men in the deep fairly early in the day when Sangakkara was on strike and often the batsman preferred to whip it through midwicket as it was routinely left vacant.
Besides their poor bowling and fielding placement, the home side also gave away five penalty runs when a return throw hit one of the two helmets on the field.