Sri Lanka secure series victory

Sri Lanka eventually hammered the final nail into Bangladesh’s coffin today, despite a record partnership in Test cricket for Bangladesh, between Mohammad Ashraful and Mushfiqur Rahim, who accumulated 191 for the sixth wicket.

Bangladesh started the day on 69-4, with Sri Lanka no doubt hopeful of a Bangladesh collapse, that has blighted their Test match cricket so far, with disturbing regularity.

The collapse was to arrive later in the day, but for the large majority of the day, Murali and co could not find the answer to dislodge Bangladesh skipper Ashraful, who finished unbeaten on 129, or his willing ally Rahim (80).

Wicket-keeper Rahim was playing in only his third Test, and made his way to the crease early in the day. Fernando had tested Habibul Bashar out with a short ball, which he uncontrollably pulled for four, before following it up with a fast full length ball that Bashar had no answer to.

At 78-5, one could not help but think that lunch time would coincide with the close of play. However, that was not taking into account the style and quality of play that was to be demonstrated by the two Bangladeshi youngsters.

With their well known tendency to play unnecessary extravagant shots, sensible cricket was the order of the day, as they so capably did.

The expansive strokeplay was put to one side, and the patience to wait for loose deliveries was rewarded in this record breaking stand.

Any claims that Sri Lanka currently possess the finest bowling attack in the world, looked a little off the mark during this partnership. Ashraful and Rahim played Murali with great skill and use of footwork, while Lasith Malinga and his fellow pacemen could get no life out of a pitch that offered very little in the way of pace or movement.

With the recent promotion of Shiv Chanderpaul up West Indies ODI batting order, you have the feeling that Ashraful, batting in this vein, must follow suit, to give himself every chance of influencing a Test match.

By lunch Bangladesh had moved onto 174-5, Ashraful bringing up his half century off the penultimate ball of the morning session. An indication of his watchfulness is shown by the 98 balls it took him to reach it. Rahim joined him on fifty after lunch, when he came down the track to flick Murali into the leg side. With that single he became the second youngest Bangladeshi to score a half century, the man at the other end was the youngest.

Sri Lanka’s patience was finally rewarded, and it came predictably from Murali, who forced Rahim to drive tamely back to him, taking him a step closer to Shane Warne’s record.

The new ball was due in a little over 2 overs, and the inevitable collapse was on the horizon.

Meanwhile Ashraful had brought up his fourth Test century, to emphasise the talent this man possesses, and what can be achieved with correct application.

If Sri Lanka were relieved to break the partnership that had gone unbroken for the complete second session, they were ecstatic that the game was put to bed with only 7.2 overs of the new ball required.

Chaminda Vaas struck twice in the first over with the new ball, when he got the ball to move typically back into the right-handers to trap both Mohammad Sharif and Mashrafe Mortaza lbw.

Two kamikaze run outs followed to conclude the Bangladesh innings for 299 and complete the series victory for Sri Lanka by an innings and 90 runs.

Kumar Sangakkara was rightly awarded man of the match for his immense effort of 200 not out in Sri Lanka’s only innings.

Bangladesh’s spirits will have been lifted by that partnership, but it is the rest of the batting line-up that now have to put their hands up if they are to gain any pride when the third Test at Kandy gets underway on July 11.

Bangladesh 62 & 299
Ashraful 129*, Rahim 80

Sri Lanka 451-6 dec
Malinda Warnapura 82, Kumar Sangakkara 200*, Mahela Jayawardene 49

Sri Lanka won by an innings and 90 runs

Cricket Web Man of the Match : K.Sangakkara 200*

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