Shakib Al Hasan displayed patience on the third day to bring up his fifth Test ton © AFP
Shakib Al Hasan was cagey about what drove him to recklessness on the second evening, but conceded he had done some hard thinking overnight before he resumed his innings where he went on to score a vital hundred on the third day of Bangladesh’s 100th Test against Sri Lanka.
Bangladesh had lost two quick wickets and would soon lose a third when he had arrived at the crease yesterday, and though they were in danger of being dismissed well short of Sri Lanka’s 338, Shakib was nevertheless aggressive: he hit 18 off eight balls, and would have been out for 11 had Upul Tharanga held on to a chance at deep square leg.
This morning’s session saw a different Shakib, however. He would hit only two further boundaries before lunch, and though he could have been run out on 40, he was largely content to push the ball around for runs into the outfield – relying on the paddle towards fine leg and a back-foot punch through the offside to bring him runs. At lunch he was at 57 off 78 balls, and progressed to his fifth Test century off the 143rd ball he faced.
Shakib was unwilling to dwell on why he had been so belligerent on the second day, providing curt answers, or stonewalling the question completely whenever the topic was breached. But he did concede that there certainly had been a change in his mindset.
“Yesterday, as I was not out, there was time at night to think about it. And in that time I thought about what approach would be good, especially the way Dinesh Chandimal batted in the first innings,” Shakib said. “I think there was a lot to learn from that knock with respect to how to bat in this innings. That helped. I had to work really hard to get those runs.” Chandimal’s innings had been uncharacteristically measured where he took 300 balls to score 138.
Shakib’s century took Bangladesh to a strong position in the Test, as they imposed a lead of 129 at the end of two innings. Bangladesh’s batting saw them move onto unfamiliar territory, having only once earlier taken a first-innings lead after batting second away from home.
“If in any situation you can score a hundred, from a personal viewpoint it is a special thing,” Shakib said. “Since there was a big need to score runs here and I could do that, I am very happy. Now the situation is very good, it is in a balanced state.”
Sri Lanka cut that lead down to 75 by stumps – their openers combining for 54. In the past, Sri Lanka have overturned two first-innings deficits against Australia last year although they did not have a three-digit deficit in either of those Tests.
“I think the first session tomorrow will be the most important session in the whole Test,” Shakib said. “It is very balanced, but if tomorrow if they bat well, the match may get away from us, and if we bowl well and take wickets we will be in the driving seat. A lot depends on that period.”
Though there was significant turn on the pitch from the first day itself, there has been less in the surface for the bowlers since. However, Mehedi Hasan and Rangana Herath did get some bite out of the pitch towards the end of day three, which suggests the surface will increasingly begin to favour the slow bowlers as the Test continues.
“I think the wicket gives enough assistance, but we have to bowl in very good areas. I won’t say that it is in a very bad state, neither is it in a good state. There is enough help, but for that we have to be patient.”
Andrew Fidel Fernando is ESPNcricinfo’s Sri Lanka correspondent. @andrewffernando
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Source: ESPN Crickinfo