Bangladesh failed to give the final push, allowing Sri Lanka to salvage a draw in the first cricket Test at Zahur Ahmed Chowdhury Stadium in Chattogram on Thursday.
The hosts raised a hope for an unlikely victory, thanks to left-arm spinner Taijul Islam, who took two vital wickets of Kusal Mendis and Angelo Mathews in the morning session but captain Dimuth Karunaratne and Niroshan Dickwell saved the team from the ultimate blushes.
The two captains agreed for a draw after Sri Lanka reached 260-6 in its second innings with Dickwella batting on 61 and Dinesh Chandimal on 39. Karunaratne made 52 from 138 balls.
Taijul returned figures of 4-82 while Shakib Al Hasan took 1-58. Sri Lanka posted 397, thanks to a 199 from Angelo Mathews before Bangladesh replied with 465, taking 68 runs lead. Tamim Iqbal hammered 133 and Mushfiqur Rahim who became the first Bangladeshi batter to reach 5000 Test runs, scored 105, BSS reports.
Resuming the day on 39-2, Sri Lanka made an attacking start with Kusal Mendis unfurling a powerful game right from the start.
He even didn’t spare Bangladesh’s best bowler Taijul Islam, striking him boundaries twice in the first over of the day as Sri Lanka looked to press for a victory.
Karunaratne however was restrained but never hesitated to punish the loose deliveries.
Bangladesh in fact was one bowling option short with pacer Shoriful Islam being ruled out, even from the second test against Sri Lanka, starting May 23 in Dhaka.
A scan revealed a fracture on the hand of Shoriful, who had to retire hurt during Bangladesh’s first innings.
Mendis continued to attack and was particularly harsh on pacer Syed Khaled Khaled and offspinner Nayeem Hasan, whom he treated in disdain.
Shakib Al Hasan though was successful to tame him with his intelligent bowling.
Taijul finally dismissed Mendis, spinning one past him to clip the off stump after the batsman hit eight fours and one six for his 48 off 43.
Taijul also tormented Angelo Mathews who scored 199 in Sri Lanka’s first innings but got a 15 ball-duck this time.
After failing to get off the mark, a visibly frustrated Mathews tried to charge Taijul but ended up giving a return catch.
Those two wickets in quick succession forced Sri Lanka to go back foot and Bangladesh raised a hope to win the Test.
Karunaratne who looked solid, brought up his 28th half-century, pushing a Shakib-delivery for three runs in third man region.
Taijul again brought the side back in contention, taking the wicket of Karunaratne with a turning delivery for 52.
Dhananjaya de Silva and Dinesh Chandimal ate up some valuable times, batting with utmost patience, which gradually dashed Bangladesh’s hope to force for a result.
Shakib had de Silva caught by Mushfiqur Rahim for 33, bringing an end to the 48-run partnership.
Chandimal and Dickwella remained rock solid with the later raising his 20th half-century from 83 balls, pushing a Taijul delivery to cover for a single. Dickwella now had gone 48 tests without any century.
But he successfully ruined Bangladesh’s hope for an unlikely victory.
The second and final Test will begin from May 23 at Sher-e-Bangla National Cricket Stadium in Dhaka.