Recent Match Report – Bangladesh vs Sri Lanka 1st Test 2023/24

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Bangladesh 188 and 43 for 5 (Vishwa 3-13) need another 464 runs to beat Sri Lanka 280 and 418 (Kamindu 164, de Silva 108, Miraz 4-74)

Bangladesh nosedived in the dying moments of day three in Sylhet, losing five wickets for 43 runs in 13 overs before stumps. The slump though came when Bangladesh were anyway in a dire situation. Earlier in the day, Kamindu Mendis had struck 164 and Dhananjaya de Silva had also completed his second hundred of the match, leaving the hosts with an improbable 511 target to chase.

Still, their dramatic collapse has left Sri Lanka needing just five wickets in two scheduled days of play. There is some rain forecast for Monday afternoon, but Sylhet’s weather otherwise looks conducive for cricket. Sri Lanka will feel they are on the brink of a rollicking victory.

Sri Lanka’s quicks delivered testing lines on a pitch that still rewarded high-quality seam bowling. Vishwa Fernando got movement through the air, and Lahiru Kumara and Kasun Rajitha gained zip off the surface. Vishwa bowled some especially good balls, particularly to Mahmudul Hasan Joy, whom he trapped in front in the first over with a ball that swung late, straightened, and would have hit leg stump, as well as to Shahadat Hossain, who played and missed his first two balls and edged the third one behind.

All up, Vishwa’s take for the day was 3 for 13 from his seven overs. Rajitha and Kumara took a wicket apiece.

But there was indiscipline from Bangladesh too. Captain Najmul Hossain Shanto was out fifth ball, throwing his bat at a full delivery that had pitched more than half-a-metre wide of off stump. Then, the last wicket to fall was that of Litton Das, who having kept wicket all day, ran down the track first ball he faced, and played a giant hoick across the line to Kumara. Predictably, he top-edged it, and was caught metres from the pitch by the incoming cover fielder.

Before Bangladesh’s batting imploded, however, Sri Lanka’s lower middle order had thrived yet again. De Silva and Kamindu had rescued Sri Lanka from 57 for 5 in the first innings with a 202-run stand. Though the team was better-placed on this occasion – 222 runs ahead with four wickets in hand – their 173-run partnership on Sunday nevertheless transformed the game’s outlook, turning Sri Lanka’s good position into an utterly dominant one.

Although Kamindu was somewhat circumspect to begin with, scoring just five off his first 20 balls, both batters progressed smoothly, after coming together in the third over of the day (Khaled Ahmed had removed nightwatcher Vishwa with a sharp bouncer). With the ball almost 40 overs old, Bangladesh’s quicks were not getting much lateral movement. And the spinners were not getting purchase off the wicket.

Although the pitch had plenty of pace and bounce still, it had eased to some extent, and both de Silva and Kamindu were quick to spot the length, and played the pull with particular ease. Their scoring areas were mostly square of the wicket with only the occasional boundary coming down the ground.

They attacked in bursts too, to really impose themselves on the opposition, In an eight-over period starting with the 47th of the innings, the pair clattered 56 runs. Through that passage, Kamindu collected consecutive boundaries off Nahid Rana, before de Silva flat-batted the same bowler past mid on two balls later. Then, next over, de Silva clobbered Mehidy Hasan’s offspin for two slog-swept sixes. Bangladesh’s attack had been rendered flat, and they never really recovered.

more to follow…

Andrew Fidel Fernando is a senior writer at ESPNcricinfo. @afidelf

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