Karunaratne battles but Bangladesh can dare to dream

Sri Lanka 338 and 268 for 8 (Karunaratne 126, Mendis 36, Perera 26*, Mustafizur 3-52) lead Bangladesh 467 by 139 runs
Scorecard and ball-by-ball details

Dimuth Karunaratne’s fifth Test century kept Bangladesh at bay for large parts of day four © AFP

The Test is tantalisingly poised. Sri Lanka, holders of a proud home record, have stretched their lead 139 runs thanks largely to two centuries: of runs from Dimuth Karunaratne and of balls by Dilruwan Perera. But Bangladesh, playing in a landmark game of their own, can rightfully consider themselves in control of the contest after picking up eight wickets on Saturday.

The day ended on a sour note for Bangladesh after umpire Aleem Dar first seemed to nod yes to an appeal, as if to suggest Suranga Lakmal had got a faint inside edge to short leg off the last ball bowled by Mosaddek Hossain. Replays, however, didn’t indicate an edge but it was yet another example of tough this Test has been for the umpires.

That Bangladesh made inroads was because the attack was led astutely by Shakib Al Hasan, who took three wickets including that of Karunaratne in the final session for 126. Having removed Asela Gunaratne and Niroshan Dickwella earlier, he finished the day with three for 61 after 30 overs of accurate left-arm spin.

Yet the man instrumental for breaking Sri Lanka’s back was Mustafizur Rahman after the hosts looked steady the first session despite losing Upul Tharanga in the day’s second over to Mehedi Hasan.

Karunaratne and Kusal Mendis weathered the early burst and had added 86, large parts of it being accrued in the first session. Mendis, who made 36, was first given an early reprieve on 12 when Imrul Kayes couldn’t hold on to a sharp chance at short leg. Then he was nearly run out on 28 after a mix-up with Karunaratne, but Sabbir Rahman’s throw from cover missed the stumps at the bowler’s end. Sri Lanka had wiped out the deficit and were ahead by eight at stumps, looking a lot more comfortable, but all that was to soon change.

Mustafizur first dismissed Kusal Mendis in controversial fashion after replays didn’t quite suggest if he nicked to the wicketkeeper. Dhananjaya de Silva and first-innings centurion Dinesh Chandimal were then out chasing wide deliveries after being starved of width for most parts of their short stay.

Even as Sri Lanka collapsed in the middle session, losing five wickets for 62 runs in 26 overs, Karunaratne battled on to reach his fifth Test century. He found an ally in Dilruwan Perera, who fought with him during the course of 22.2 overs in which they added 27. The gallant fight ended when Shakib had Karunaratne caught at slip for 126, an effort that took him 244 balls and included 10 fours and a six over mid-on.

Rangana Herath continued to blunt the bowling with Dilruwan by batting for another nine overs before being trapped by Shakib with a delivery fizzed with the angle from over the wicket. Perera meanwhile remained steadfast in defence, only getting his first boundaries after he had faced 110 balls. He added 30 valuable runs with Lakmal when stumps were drawn.

Mohammad Isam is ESPNcricinfo’s Bangladesh correspondent. @isam84

© ESPN Sports Media Ltd.

Source: ESPN Crickinfo

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