Innings Sri Lanka 713 for 9 dec. (Mendis 196, Dhananjaya 173, Roshen 109, Taijul 4-219) lead Bangladesh 513 by 200 runs.

Three wickets fell in the afternoon session, then two more just after tea, to prompt a Sri Lanka declaration, 200 runs in front.

Despite the relative proliferation of dismissals, the cricket was nevertheless dull. Only occasionally did the spinners find sharp turn. Rough had developed, but only wide of the stumps, which – with a little discernment – batsmen can often negotiate. Even if there is a collapse and a result over the last four sessions, it cannot excuse the bowler abuse this hard-baked surface has facilitated. Run-making has rarely been so easy.

Sri Lanka have now left the Bangladesh batsmen with a strange task: batting to save the Test after they themselves had scored 513 in the first innings. If the visitors have earned their position in this game it is through sheer stamina, their batsmen having outlasted the hosts’ batting order. Only once before were Bangladesh in the field longer than the 199.3 overs they delivered here.

It was Niroshan Dickwella who prodded Sri Lanka forward after lunch, with Dinesh Chandimal dismissed early in the second session by a Taijiul Islam arm ball. Dilruwan Perera also contributed a steady 32. Rangana Herath and Suranga Lakmal hit 24 and 9 respectively, and it was their departures soon after the tea break that prompted captain Chandimal to declare the innings closed.

Though full of tedium as virtually all of day three had also been, there were two mild glimmers in the afternoon session: the batting of Dickwella and the bowling of Mehidy Hasan. Dickwella’s sweeps and reverse-sweeps kept Sri Lanka’s score rolling – the most impressive of those shots was 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.

Save for an overturned lbw review – also against the bowling of Mehidy – Perera’s innings was uneventful. There were four fours, two either side of the pitch – and the remainder was ones and twos.

The morning session had been another fruitful one for Sri Lankan milestones. Roshen Silva completed his maiden Test hundred; he and Chandimal celebrated the innings’ third century stand; and after Mehidy had dismissed Roshen, Sri Lanka moved past 600. The runs, and boundaries, and milestones have by now all blurred into one tiresome memory.


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