Three wickets for six runs in seven balls. That was enough to undo all the hard work that Bangladesh had done for most of the first two days to get into the driving seat in their 100th Test match, the second of a two-Test series against Sri Lanka that Bangladesh trail 0-1.
Sri Lanka had scored 338, which was powered by Dinesh Chandimal's 138 and to an extent the conservative tactics that allowed the home team to recover from an overnight score of 238 for seven.
But Bangladesh, having gotten to 192 for two with 3.2 overs left in the day, displayed their inability to sustain a performance through a Test day as they collapsed to 214 for five to surrender all the hard-won initiative to Sri Lanka at the P Sara Oval in Colombo yesterday.
Even more than the wickets, it was the farcical way in which Bangladesh negotiated the last 20 minutes that should anger and worry their fans. Imrul Kayes, after having been dropped on 25 by Chandimal at deep square leg off Suranga Lakmal in the 52nd over, refused to curb the attacking instinct and paid for it when, in the 57th over, he went for a pull off chinaman bowler Lakshan Sandakan to a ball that was not short enough for the shot and was out leg-before for 34. Taijul Islam, sent in as the nightwatchman, was beaten by a googly and was adjudged out leg-before upon review the next ball.
Shakib Al Hasan came in and hit his first ball for a cross-batted four through midwicket, hinting that this was not to be an ordinary passage of play.
In the next over, Sabbir Rahman who batted in one-day style to reach 42 off 53 balls, was oblivious to the ring of leg-side fielders and went ahead with a pull shot off Lakmal to be caught at leg slip. Shakib then tried his best to get out, repeating his hattrick-delivery shot in Sandakan's next over before a pull shot aimed for the stands was dropped by Upul Tharanga at deep midwicket.
The last over produced a wild hook shot played above his head which, fortunately for Bangladesh, landed a few feet short of the onrushing deep square leg fielder. Mushfiqur Rahim, who perhaps for the first time in his international career actually seemed to react angrily to a Shakib shot when the latter was dropped in the previous over, then played out the last ball of the day.
Earlier in the last session Soumya became the second Bangladesh opener after Tamim to hit three successive half-centuries, reaching the landmark with a risky glide past first slip for three. Soon he was out for a score between 50 and 100 for the third time in succession as he was bowled by a Lakshan Sandakan googly which the left-hander played around with a big gap between bat and pad for the ball to shoot through.
In the morning, Bangladesh began the second day much in the same vein as they did the first, conceding just 12 runs in the first 7.5 overs. It was Shakib Al Hasan and Mustafizur Rahman who tied things up. Shakib pushed through a quicker one to Herath in the first ball of the 92nd over and the Sri Lanka skipper was late on it, resulting in an edge which was juggled and then held at slip by Soumya Sarkar, and Herath walked back with a 91-ball 25 with Sri Lanka on 250 for eight.
Chandimal showed technical proficiency in dealing with the good balls while punishing anything that was slightly off point. Boundaries in successive overs after Herath's departure -- a majestic pull off Subashis Roy and a canon-fired reverse sweep off Shakib -- took him to 99. It was off a leading edge through cover that Chandimal reached his eighth Test ton, and his fourth against Bangladesh in six matches.
With the score nearing his coach's expressed minimum of 300 and Mushfiqur becoming more defensive, Chandimal gave notice of his intent to dominate with an imperious pick-up six off Mustafizur -- who had kept things quiet until then -- in the 103rd over. Around that time, Chandimal had begun to farm the strike, seemingly not with the intent of protecting his partner as Lakmal was coping well, but to maximise the deliveries he faced in order to score runs faster.
Chandimal finally toe-ended a slog-sweep off Miraz in the 106th over to be caught for 138 by Mosaddek, who was positioned in front of square to save singles.
Mustafizur at short midwicket then dropped a hard catch to give Sandakan a life off Miraz in the 110th over, but perhaps one of Bangladesh's weaker fielders should not have been in a catching position.
Lakmal then hit two fours and a six over square leg in Miraz's next over, before Subashis Roy's reintroduction in the 114th over saw Lakmal top-edge a pull into the hands of third man to be out for his Test best of 35 and bring an end to Sri Lanka's innings on 338 as lunch was taken 15 minutes after the scheduled time.
After lunch, Bangladesh's opening pair of Tamim Iqbal and Soumya Sarkar put on their third successive 50-plus opening stand of the series after putting on 118 and 67 in Galle. Tamim was a little fortunate on two and 43 when Herath chose not to review two leg-before decisions turned down off Lakmal and Sandakan in the third and 19th overs respectively. Both would have been out if reviewed as replays showed a majority of the ball hitting the stumps.
Once he crossed 40, Tamim seemed intent on attacking every delivery outside off stump that spinner Lakshan and Herath bowled, perhaps in an attempt to get to his fifty or damage the bowlers' confidence. But it was his tendency to play across his front pad, with around six minutes to go for tea, that cost him as a Herath delivery rapped him on the pads in front of middle stump, and this time the Sri Lanka skipper decided to go for the review. Aleem Dar's decision was overturned and Tamim was out for 49 after a 95-run opening stand to signal the tea interval.