Lanka sympathises with Bangladesh

REX CLEMENTINE

BANGLADESH'S disastrous tour of Sri Lanka came to an end with another humiliating defeat by an innings and 69 runs in the second and final Test at the P. Saravanamuttu Stadium in Colombo. Bangladesh lost the series 2-0. This latest defeat in the space of two and a half days was Bangladesh's 34th loss in 40 matches and 24th by an innings.

The second Test started well for Bangladesh when opening bowlers Shahadat Hossain and Syed Rasel took advantage of the helpful conditions after Sri Lanka had opted to bat and reduced the host to 48 for four.

It would have been 60 for five if Aftab Ahmed hadn't dropped a tough chance and Dilshan Tillekeratne made the most of the reprieve. He along with Thilan Samaraweera put Sri Lanka in a strong position with a brilliant counter-attack that showed up the Bangladeshi attack.

The two seamers, Hossain and Rasel, had bowled well in the morning, but the support from the spinners wasn't good enough as the Sri Lankan pair scored at the rate of five runs an over between lunch and tea.

Dilshan brought up his fourth Test hundred and the first in a year. He even had the opportunity of scoring his maiden double hundred before falling to part-time seamer Aftab Ahmed for a well made 168 in 179 balls with 19 fours and a six.

Samaraweera, meanwhile, played yet another patient knock, helping to rescue the side with an invaluable 138. Generally a sedate batsman, the right-hander was in an attacking mood earlier on in his innings, but settled down to play a supporting role.

He put up a record partnership for the fifth wicket with Dilshan, the pair adding 280 runs for the fifth wicket and surpassing the previous best of 236 between Aravinda de Silva and Sanath Jayasuriya at the same venue against the same opposition in 2002.

Samaraweera's 138 was his fifth Test hundred and later in the day he became Rasel's third victim.

Rasel (21) and Hossain (19) ended with four wickets each as Sri Lanka declared on 457 for nine on the morning of the second day.

The two seamers only got a chance to play in the Test series due to injuries to Tapash Baisya and Mashrafe Morataza who were sent back home after the ODI series.

Sri Lanka's first innings total was boosted by some big hitting by the lower order. Chaminda Vaas made a run a ball 65 with 11 fours and a six with Muttiah Muralitharan chipping in with 24 with three boundaries and a six as the pair added 53 for the eighth wicket in even time.

Paceman Dilhara Fernando helped the host to consolidate its position. Fernando struck thrice before lunch to reduce Bangladesh to 74 for four and claimed two more wickets before tea as the tourist was bowled out for 191 in less than 46 overs. Fernando finished with his best figures in an innings when he claimed five for 60, his third five-wicket haul.

Wicket-keeper Kumar Sangakkara had a hand in five dismissals. Only Mohammad Ashraful made a noteworthy contribution with an entertaining 42 in 41 balls (five fours and two sixes).

Marvan Atapattu enforced the follow on with still 36 overs left on day two and the tourists needed 267 runs to make Sri Lanka bat again. The top order once again failed as Vaas and Fernando restricted Bangladesh to 56 for three.

A 75-run stand between Ashraful and Shahriar Nafees then followed for the fourth wicket, but Muralitharan struck in the penultimate over before close of play removing Nafees who had been demoted to the middle order from opening the innings.

Nafees, playing only his second Test, brought up his maiden Test fifty before being dismissed.

Vaas accounted for both the overnight batsmen in successive overs in the morning. First Ashraful nicked one to Thilan Samaraweera at first slip, while nightwatchman Hossain was bowled by an inswinger.

Left-arm spinner Rangana Herath joined the party with three late order wickets as Bangladesh was bowled out for 197 in 60.4 overs.

Samaraweera was named the Man of the Match, while Dilshan won the Man of the Series award.

The Test was also memorable for Sri Lanka's opening batsman Sanath Jayasuriya, 36, who became the first Sri Lankan to play 100 Test matches.

He made his debut against New Zealand in Hamilton in 1991 and has been a key figure behind Sri Lanka's success, scoring 6580 Test runs at an average of 42.17.

At the end of a disappointing tour, Bangladesh captain Habibul Bashar called it the worst ever he had been as a captain. "It is very much part of our life. But I believe both the players and the management should take equal responsibility for the team's bad performance. I must say it was the worst tour since I took over the captaincy," he said.

Apart from poor performances, Bangladesh was also beset with injury and disciplinary problems. Bangladesh's highest wicket taker Mohammed Rafique was fined 75 percent of his match fee for getting involved in a training ground spat with coach Dav Whatmore as the left-arm spinner accused the team's physiotherapist of not taking enough care of an injury.

The number of critics who are calling for Bangladesh to be stripped of its Test status keeps growing, but the Asian nation had an ally in Sri Lankan captain Marvan Atapattu. "I have seen Sri Lanka going through these kinds of spells where we played two and a half days and three-day Test matches," he said, speaking of Sri Lanka's struggle earlier on.

"I want to admit that they have definitely improved from what they were when they came here last time," he added.

Atapattu also claimed that some sessions by sports psychologist Sandy Gordon a couple of months back were beginning to pay dividends for his side. "When Tom (Moody) came down we had a couple of sessions with Sandy Gordon, a sports psychologist, where we shared so many things and he came out with some suggestions. In the dressing room we have some common things all agreed upon and one of the main things is trusting each other and believing each other. That's one of the things that has worked during the last two months," he said.

The scores

Second Test, P. Saravanamuttu Stadium, Colombo, September 20 to 22. Sri Lanka won by an innings and 69 runs.

Sri Lanka — 1st innings: S. Jayasuriya lbw b Syed Rasel 13; M. Atapattu c Khaled Mashud b Shahadat Hossain 11; K. Sangakkara b Syed Rasel 5; M. Jayawardene b Shahadat Hossain 2; T. Samaraweera c Shahriar Nafees b Syed Rasel 138; T. Dilshan c Khaled Mashud b Aftab Ahmed 168; C. Vaas b Syed Rasel 65; R. Herath lbw b Shahadat Hossain 1; M. Muralitharan b Shahadat Hossain 24; D. Fernando (not out) 4; Extras (b-4, lb-10, w-1, nb-11) 26; Total (for nine wkts decl.) 457.

Fall of wickets: 1-28, 2-28, 3-33, 4-48, 5-328, 6-397, 7-400, 8-453, 9-457.

Bangladesh bowling: Syed Rasel 21.3-2-129-4; Shahadat Hossain 20-3-108-4; Aftab Ahmed 8-2-33-1; Mohammad Rafique 23-1-92-0; Enamul Haque (jnr) 18-2-70-0; Mohammad Ashraful 2-0-11-0.

Bangladesh — 1st innings: Javed Omar b Fernando 18; Shahriar Nafees c Sangakkara b Malinga 5; Habibul Bashar c Vaas b Fernando 18; Nafees Iqbal c Sangakkara b Fernando 5; Mohammad Ashraful c Atapattu b Fernando 42; Aftab Ahmed c Sangakkara b Fernando 23; Khaled Mashud st. Sangakkara b Muralitharan 26; Mohammad Rafique c Dilshan b Muralitharan 6; Syed Rasel c Vaas b Muralitharan 5;n Shahadat Hossain c Sangakkara b Malinga 7; Enamul Haque (jnr) (not out) 2; Extras (b-8, lb-9, w-1, nb-16) 34; Total 191.

Fall of wickets: 1-16, 2-46, 3-52, 4-72, 5-115, 6-135, 7-143, 8-157, 9-166.

Sri Lanka bowling: Vaas 10-0-31-0; Malinga 9-1-32-2; Fernando 11-2-60-5; Muralitharan 14.4-2-47-3; Herath 1-0-4-0. Bangladesh — 2nd innings: Nafees Iqbal c Sangakkara b Fernando 30; Javed Omar c Atapattu b Vaas 9; Habibul Bashar c Muralitharan b Fernando 10; Shahriar Nafees c Samaraweera b Muralitharan 51; Mohammad Ashraful c Samaraweera b Vaas 26; Shahadat Hossain b Vaas 1; Aftab Ahmed c Samaraweera b Herath 25; Khaled Mashud lbw b Muralitharan 18; Mohammad Rafique b Herath 9; Syed Rasel c Jayasuriya b Herath 1; Enamul Haque (jnr) (not out) 1; Extras (b-7, lb-3, nb-6) 16; Total 197.

Fall of wickets: 1-22, 2-44, 3-56, 4-131, 5-136, 6-139, 7-172, 8-194, 9-196.

Sri Lanka bowling: Vaas 13-1-36-3; Malinga 7-0-31-0; Fernando 10-0-35-2; Herath 15.4-3-52-3; Muralitharan 14-6-28-2; Dilshan 1-0-5-0.