Birthday boy Mahmudullah Riyad lifted Shohag Gazi on his shoulders to celebrate the wicket of Mahela Jayawardene, depriving the right-hander of a deserved hundred. It was the wicket that broke the ice but it was the two wickets in the last half hour from leading spinner Shakib Al Hasan that helped Bangladesh finish the first day of the second and final Test against Sri Lanka with some relief at the Zohur Ahmed Chowdhury Stadium yesterday.
Compared to their performance on the first day at Mirpur, one must consider it a good start for the Tigers but Sri Lanka were still in the driving seat with 314 runs on the board and five wickets in hand, thanks to Kumar Sangakkara who was undefeated on 160.
Left-arm spinner Shakib provided the late success with the second new ball in trying conditions but he must thank Dinesh Chandimal and visiting skipper Angelo Mathews as both simply threw their wickets away in a sudden bout of madness after the two batting geniuses, Sangakkara and Mahela Jayawardene, put on a flawless 178-run partnership for the third wicket.
It was a perfect stage for the two senior Sri Lanka batsmen and they once again showed their class by neutralising the spin-heavy Bangladesh attack, which fielded only one pacer in Al-Amin in the match, to take their team to a commanding position after being reduced to 49 for two.
Bangladesh captain Mushfiqur Rahim lost the all-important toss but he had reasons to go for a good lunch after his two opening bowlers, pacer Al-Amin and spinner Shohag Gazi, took one wicket each. But Jayawardene, the centurion in the first Test, joined his favourite batting partner to seize the home side's early momentum.
Kaushal Silva was undone by the low bounce of Gazi, who started bravely by flighting the ball, while fellow opener Dimuth Karunaratne hit a short wide one from Al-Amin directly to the man at point. The home side may have then had visions of a stunning day but the two senior Sri Lankan batsmen applied themselves brilliantly on the languorous Chittagong surface.
Bangladeshi bowlers were often too short in their bowling and fed the batsmen loose deliveries. Surprisingly Shakib was the most expensive. Even though the bowlers lacked variation on the non-responsive wicket, Jayawardene and Sangakkara concentrated heavily on their jobs; a lesson the Tigers can take when they bat.
To add to Bangladesh's woes, Abdur Razzak went off the field with a hamstring problem in his left leg after bowling a mere four overs.
During his near five-hour stay at the crease, the left-handed Sangakkara profited most from his pull shot against the short pitched deliveries especially from Riyad and all his three sixes came over deep midwicket. Jayawardene meanwhile took his time to adjust to the pitch's pace but gradually settled down to capitalise on the spin attack during his 147-ball 72.
Having drawn level with Sangakkara's 33 tons in Mirpur, Jayawardene missed a chance in Chittagong but his batting, along with Sangakkara's, provided yet another advertisement of masterful batting.