SL close in on Colombo victory

Bangladesh’s woeful Test form continued on day two in Colombo, as Kumar Sangakkara effortlessly ran up a double-hundred before Sri Lanka’s seamers ripped through the Tigers’ top order. The tourists, having been skittled for an embarrassing 62 yesterday, lost their top four in the space of 16 balls to Chaminda Vaas and Dilhara Fernando to close on 69-4, some 320 runs adrift of making Sri Lanka bat again.

After Mahela Jayawardene had predictably let Sangakkara cruise to the 200 mark and declare Sri Lanka’s innings closed at a more than ample 451-6, Bangladesh raced to 48 without loss before normal service resumed. Shahriar Nafees and Javed Omar struck ten boundaries between them as Sri Lanka began waywardly, but once Vaas had them both caught behind by the two Jayawardenes – keeper Prasanna and Mahela at slip – chaos ensued.

Fernando trapped Rajin Saleh, the only batsman to make double figures in the first innings, leg before for a duck before forcing deubutant Mehrab Hossain jnr to play on for a duck. It was left to Habibul Bashar and captain Mohammad Ashraful to shepherd Bangladesh through to the close without further damage and with only Mushfiqur Rahim and a lengthy tail to come, much rests on them tomorrow.

Yet for all of Sri Lanka’s dominance, the outcome of the day could have been so different had Bangladesh clung onto a series of chances that came their way during the morning session. Malinda Warnapura could only add three to his overnight score of 79 before he fended a sharp bouncer from Shahadat Hossain to mid-wicket. Both Mahela Jayawardene and Sangakkara offered early chances off the outside edge and Mohammad Rafique put down the simplest return catch as the Sri Lankans rode their luck.

Only Shahadat however really had the pace to threaten the batsmen, who knocked runs off the likes of Rafique and the innocuous Mohammad Sharif at will. The carnage of past years, where Bangladeshi attacks were routinely flattened at five an over, was reduced to more calculated accumulation, although that was probably more the fault of the slow pitch than the batsmen.

Immediately after lunch, the breakthrough finally came when Jayawardene snatched at another hostile short delivery from Shahadat, falling one shy of a fifty. Sangakkara, more circumspect in his approach, continued to plough on, reaching his hundred by lofting Rafique back over his head for six. The extra hardness of the new ball brought a string of boundaries as Sangakkara and Silva, who made 38, cut loose against the seamers.

Just as Bangladesh appeared to be running out of ideas, two wickets in the space of three balls from the unlikely figure of Mehrab Hossain jnr injected life back into their despondent fielders. A sharp slip catch from Mashrafe brought an end to Silva’s 48-ball cameo – although replays suggested that the bat may have hit the ground, rather than the ball – before Tillekaratne Dilshan was comprehensively beaten through the air rashly danced down the pitch and was bowled for a duck.

Contributions from Prasanna Jayawardene and Vaas, who made 14 and 30 not out respectively, pushed Sri Lanka over 400 as Sangakkara eased himself to a fifth Test double-hundred. In all he faced 325 balls, 20 of which were hit for four and two of which cleared the ropes: his 200 runs could well be more than the entire Bangladesh team make in two innings of this Test.

Bangladesh 62 & 69-4 (14 overs)
Javed Omar 28, Shahriar Nafees 20
Chaminda Vaas 2-13, Dilhara Fernando 2-28

Sri Lanka 451-6 declared (124.5 overs)
Malinda Warnapura 82, Kumar Sangakkara 200*, Mahela Jayawardene 49

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