Late wickets leave Bangladesh in trouble after Sri Lanka's 713

Dinesh Chandimal tucks the ball past short leg
Bangladesh v Sri Lanka, 1st Test, Chittagong, 4th day February 03, 2018

Bangladesh 81 for 3 (Mominul 18*) trail Sri Lanka 713 for 9 dec. (Mendis 196, Dhananjaya 173, Roshen 109, Taijul 4-219) by 119 runs

The fall of three late Bangladesh wickets lent hope the Chittagong Test may yet produce a result, after Sri Lanka had secured a first-innings lead of 200, amassing 713 for 9. Roshen Silva completed an assured hundred, Dinesh Chandimal a measured 87 and Niroshan Dickwella a rapid 62, but it was Sri Lanka's spinners who truly breathed life into the game. Finding turn with the almost-new ball, Dilruwan Perera, Lakshan Sandakan and Rangana Herath struck once each in the final 12 overs of the day. With both Mushfiqur Rahim and Tamim Iqbal among those dismissed, the Bangladesh middle order is now charged with carrying them to safety on day five. They are still 119 runs behind.

The late wickets came after the hosts had begun their second innings with such confidence. Tamim Iqbal was not quite as belligerent as he had been in the first innings, but he was nevertheless positive, stroking Herath through midwicket early in his innings, before delectably flicking Suranga Lakmal through square leg in the fourth over. Sri Lanka raised some good lbw shouts, but batting still appeared a relatively uncomplicated exercise. Imrul Kayes was quieter than Tamim, but hardly seemed to be struggling.

It was in the over that Imrul was dismissed that the vibe changed. Tamim was beaten twice by turning Dilruwan Perera deliveries before he finally managed to get himself off strike off the fifth ball. Imrul then somehow managed to get the toe-end of his bat to an attempted ramp shot, and the ball looped out towards the square leg fielder, who completed an easy take. The remaining 11.5 overs were tense; only two boundaries were struck before stumps. Tamim was largely to blame for his dismissal - prodding at a Sandakan ball that was not threatening the stumps, only to send a thin edge to the wicketkeeper. Mushfiqur, however, can consider himself very unlucky. He got forward to defend a full delivery from Herath, only for the ball to hit his bat and bounce off his shoe. Kusal Mendis took a good low catch at silly point.

Sri Lanka's march to their gargantuan score was, it must be said, utterly tedious viewing, even if it may turn out to be in service of a Test win. The morning session was another speckled with Sri Lanka milestones - Roshen and Chandimal bringing up the third century stand of the innings, before Roshen completed a proficient maiden Test ton. Later in the session, after Roshen had been caught behind off a Mehidy Hasan delivery, Sri Lanka ploughed on past 600. Bangladesh's bowlers were by now in various states of fatigue, and their four front-line bowlers had all conceded over 100 runs apiece.

Where there had been urgency in the progress of Dhananjaya de Silva and Kusal Mendis on day three, Chandimal had largely been content to inch along, hitting three boundaries off the 185 deliveries he faced. Had he scored 13 more runs, he would have had a fifth Test century against Bangladesh, but soon after lunch, he allowed a straight Taijul Islam delivery to wriggle between bat and pad. The afternoon was enlivened, if only mildly, by Niroshan Dickwella's aggression and Mehidy's bowling.

Dickwella's sweeps and reverse-sweeps kept Sri Lanka's score rolling - the most impressive of those shots the flat reverse sweep against Taijul that scorched to the boundary in front of square. Mehidy flighted the ball nicely and read the batsmen's intentions well, often firing it fast and flat if he sensed his opponent would make an advance down the pitch. For his enduring boldness, Mehidy was rewarded with Dickwella's wicket - the batsman top-edging an ill-advised reverse-sweep against the turn, to a ball that pitched well outside his leg stump. In the previous session, Dickwella had survived an lbw shout against Mehidy that could have fairly been given out, though the not-out decision would not have been overturned on review either.

Dilruwan Perera contributed a largely uneventful 32 to the score, but when three quick wickets fell either side of tea, Chandimal decided Sri Lanka had batted long enough. All up, they had kept Bangladesh in the field for 199.3 overs, which was only three balls fewer than the longest stretch in the field a Bangladesh side had ever endured. Taijul's workload was immense - he had bowled 67.3 overs in the innings.

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