Sri Lanka pile on the runs

Sri Lanka continued their quest for a series whitewash against Bangladesh today after piling on 470 runs on the third day in Kandy.

Having lost well over a hundred overs in the first two days, Sri Lanka were ready for business when the skies finally cleared. Sri Lanka were 30/0 overnight in response to Bangladesh’s meek 131 all out.

Bangladesh made the early morning breakthrough when Syed Rasel had Sri Lankan opener Upul Tharanga out for 12. The classy wicketkeeper batsman Kumar Sangakkara came in and immediately put his mark on the bowling attack, superbly putting away a Rasel no-ball for four in his first over.

Michael Vandort reached a respectable 43 before being cleaned bowled by Rasel, leaving too much room between bat and pad. Bangladesh could be forgiven at this stage for thinking they had a chance at 74/2.

However that notion was put to rest as Mahela Jayawardene came to the crease and dominated the bowling after a somewhat cautious start. The skipper had his 30th Test 50 in 71 balls, which included a glorious six off Mohammad Rafique straight over midwicket.

After lunch Sangakkara bought up his fifty and before long, the partnership had reached a hundred with both players looking supremely confident and ready to go on.

And go on they did, both players punishing the Bangladesh bowling, rarely giving any chances as the runs and the lead began to accumulate.

With both batsmen approaching the nineties in the 58th over of the innings, the race for the century began and it was the captain, Jayawardene who managed the milestone first. His 18th Test century coming about through a nudge to short third man in just 133 deliveries.

With the heavens looking ominous, Sangakkara wasted no time in reaching yet another hundred in his already highly distinguished career with a beautiful back foot four through covers. Sri Lanka cruising at this stage on 268/2, more than double Bangladesh’s first innings total, for the loss of only two wickets.

Either batsman could have been forgiven for throwing their wickets away, for thinking they had done enough for themselves and the team in securing the lead. But it was not the case with both batsman realising the opportunity was there to go on for a big score in front of their home crowd.

The carnage continued well in to the day as each batsman eyed their 150 in very comfortable circumstances with Bangladesh devoid of answers on how to break the epic partnership.

Jayawardene brought up his 150 in the best possible fashion with a wonderful six over gully, punishing the wayward bowling of Shahadat Hossain to the maximum extent. The knock included 14 fours and three sixes, taking his side into a winning position.

At the other end, Sangakkara took just a little while longer to bring up the same milestone as the partnership crept over 300, these two players no stranger to big partnerships; together holding the record for the third wicket partnership in Tests of 624, made against South Africa last year. Sangakkara passed the 150 mark for a remarkable ninth time with 18 fours in a superb and beautifully paced innings.

But like all great partnerships, this one had to come to an end and on 165, Jayawardene was finally dismissed, Syed Rasel making the breakthrough again for Bangladesh, bringing the marathon 311 run partnership to an close. The skipper was caught by Mohammad Ashraful at mid-off after mistiming the stroke attempting to clear the fielder.

Chamara Silva came to the crease and played a supporting role as his partner started the climb to the double hundred at the other end, bringing up Sri Lanka’s 400 runs for the day in the process. With Sangakkara on 188, some luck finally came Bangladesh’s way when he charged down the track trying to smack Mohammad Ashraful out of the ground. However the ball went straight back to the bowler who was not able to hold on to it, but did enable a deflection onto the stumps, running out the unlucky Silva for 25.

Sangakkara then took no chances as he reached his second consecutive double ton against Bangladesh with an effortless pull shot for four, his 25th of the match. Another three fours later and cricket’s premier wicketkeeper-batsman was 222 not at stumps. Sri Lanka, at an imposing 500/4, unbeatable at this stage with a declaration imminent and a series whitewash inevitable.

Bangladesh 131
Shahriar Nafees 29, Mohammad Ashraful 26
Muttiah Muralitharan 6-28, Sujeewa de Silva 2-29

Sri Lanka 500/4
Kumar Sangakkara 222*, Mahela Jayawardene 165
Syed Rasel 3-104

Sri Lanka lead by 369 runs with six wickets remaining in the first innings.

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