Bangladesh captain Mohammad Ashraful celebrates after dismissing Sri Lanka opener Malinda Warnapura on the third day of the second Test at the Chittagong Divisional Stadium yesterday. Photo: Zobaer Hossain Sikder
Bangladesh passed a tough day as the Sri Lankan batsmen showed real vigilance on way to building up an innings on the third day of the final Test at the Chittagong Divisional Stadium yesterday.
With a 176-run first innings cushion, the visitors could easily have gone for the kill against the home team bowlers but none of their batsmen showed that kind of arrogance, only picking the bad balls to hit on a tricky pitch where it's not so easy to play shots.
Sri Lanka already possess a huge 472-run lead after ending the day on 296 for four and after the third day's play the question all around was whether the Tigers can apply the same concentration as the visiting batsmen showed in their second innings.
The home batters can easily take the lesson from them when they go to bat in their second innings with an improbable target to chase. Their second innings effort in the first Test where they scored 413 runs in reply to a towering target of 521 could be an inspiration for them as well.
But the Sri Lankans issued a warning by saying that it would be a different story here as the pitch is different from the one in Mirpur.
"The two wickets are totally different. Here it is not easy to play shots, that is the important difference and you have to bat very straight from the start to the end. The Dhaka wicket got better and better each day but this one is uneven and getting slower. There are cracks developing and if you bowl slowly then it gets very difficult to play strokes," said Thilan Samaraweera, who shared an unbeaten 131-run partnership with Tillakaratne Dilshan to put his side in a commanding position.
Then was the total they have already achieved not good enough?
"I think it is a good lead. The wicket is getting more difficult and at the moment it is a bit uneven. We'll decide in the morning whether to declare or not. Regarding waiting for the hundreds, well it is upto the team management," said Samaraweera, who was not out on 72 while his partner Dilshan remained not out on 81.
"I think 400 is a safe score. We didn't declare today probably because the bowlers needed a rest after bowling long spells. Murali bowled 70-odd overs in the first Test," he added.
While everybody was focusing on the deadly spinning duo -- Muttiah Muralidaran and Ajantha Mendis -- the Sri Lankan batsmen however put more attention to their two new ball bowlers Chaminda Vaas and Dilhara Fernando.
"Murali and Ajantha will be the key but the new ball is most important. Dilhara [Fernando] and [Chaminda] Vaas bowled extremely well with the new ball in the first innings and if they can do that again then the spinners' job will become easy," he warned. Undoubtedly the main focus will be on Bangladesh captain Mohammad Ashraful who made a hundred in the second innings of the first innings and carried the form with 45 in the first innings of the second Test.
But as always, there remains a question about his temperament.
“In Ashraful I see one of the most talented batsmen in the world. I saw him when he made his Test debut and he made a brilliant hundred. There is no question about his ability but maybe he has lapses in concentration. To me he is one of the best,” said Samaraweera, considered one of the coolest customers in world cricket.
There was actually not a single performer in the Bangladesh side on the third day and that was the reason the team management didn't hesitate to send Rokibul Hasan to meet the press.
The youngster had only this to say: “We have to bat session by session to survive in this Test'.