By BV Swagath
A massive unbroken stand of 262 runs for the fifth wicket between Mohammad Ashraful and Skipper Mushfiqur Rahim looks to be setting up Bangladesh towards a rare draw. With two full days left in the match, Bangladesh are sitting pretty at 438 for 4 in their first innings in reply to Sri Lanka’s 570 for 4 declared. The Tigers have already made the Lankans field for 138 overs and look good to stretch it further on the penultimate day to defy the hosts from winning this first Test at Galle.
Just the two wickets fell all day at Galle on Day 3 as the pitch continued to be very flat and placid. Rangana Herath could turn the odd ball but nothing really troubled the Bangladeshi batsmen. It was just a matter of temperament of staying there at the wicket which is what Ashraful and Mushfiqur did while playing some positive shots all around the wicket.
In the morning, overnight batsman Momimul Haque scored his maiden Test fifty before he tamely edged an away going delivery from Nuwan Kulasekara into the slips. The left-handed Momimul looked good for his 55 (from 83 balls with 9 fours) though he could not convert it into a longer knock. An over after his exit, Mahmudullah threw away his wicket by shockingly stepping out of his crease on 0, showing heroics to launch Herath into the stands, but only to be beaten by one that turned away to have him stumped out like a school kid.
There was some pressure on Bangladesh at 177 for 4, but Ashraful continued to bat sensibly despite going past a 6th Test century. Skipper Mushfiqur Rahim showed great responsibility to stitch together a perfect partnership which exposed the weak Sri Lankan bowling. In the process, the diminutive Rahim scored his 2nd Test hundred. At Stumps, Ashraful moved to 189* (from 398 balls with 20 fours and a six) while Mushfiqur Rahim got to 152* (from 236 balls with 18 fours and a six). Both the batsmen had gone past their previous highest scores of their respective Test careers. Bangladesh still need to bat for two more sessions to completely kill the chances of a Sri Lankan win. The deficit at Stumps on Day 3 is 132 runs with six wickets in hand for the visitors.