Shamsur Rahman and Imrul Kayes struck maiden Test tons to help Bangladesh avoid the follow-on in the second and final Test against Sri Lanka in Chittagong on Thursday (February 6).
Facing a monumental task after Kumar Sangakkara’s 319 had powered Sri Lanka to 587, the duo put together a record 232-run stand for the second wicket as Bangladesh added 325 runs to its overnight total to finish on 409 for 8 at stumps on the third day at the Zahur Ahmed Chowdhury stadium.
It was a remarkable comeback by Bangladesh after an innings and 248-run thrashing in the first Test in Dhaka last week, its 14th loss in 15 Tests against Sri Lanka.
However, Bangladesh missed out on an opportunity to capitalize on the strong start by the top order as it lost its way in the final session, losing four wickets to trail by 178 runs.
Rahman, playing in only his second Test, showed solidity upfront and negotiated the new ball bowlers with immaculate control, while his partner Kayes also made an immediate impact upon returning to Test cricket after two years in the wilderness.
Kayes survived two chances in one over from Mendis when on 95. The first time he was dropped by Kithuruwan Vithanage at point, but when the same fielder took a catch three balls later, the umpire declared a no-ball.
The duo then surpassed the side’s previous best partnership for the second wicket of 200 by Tamim Iqbal and Junaid Siddiqui against India in Dhaka in 2010, but frittered away the advantage by playing needless strokes against the run of play.
Spinner Ajantha Mendis, who was brought into the XI for the Test, first dismissed Rahman before beating Kayes in flight as he stepped out to loft the ball. In the process, Kayes pulled his hamstring and had to be taken off the field in a stretcher.
Once the defiant partnership was broken, Sri Lanka tightened the noose by slicing through the middle order. But Shakib-al-Hasan led a rearguard action by scoring a vital half-century and was ably assisted by Nasir Hossain, who made 42.
Mendis then returned to dismiss Nasir and Sohag Gazi off successive deliveries, but Al-Amin Hossain prevented a hat-trick. Mohammad Mahmudullah, a useful lower-order batsman, was unbeaten on 30 and Al-Amin was on 3 at stumps.
Mendis finished the day with figures of 4 for 84 while Dilruwan Perera, the offspinner, claimed 3 for 119 after 39 overs of toil. Medium pacer Nuwan Pradeep looked off colour and conceded as many as 13 no-balls. He also proved expensive, conceding 96 runs in 15 overs.
(Courtesy: International Cricket Council)