One bad shot turns the tide

REX CLEMENTINE

GOING into the first Test match at the R. Premadasa Stadium in Colombo, the touring Bangladesh team's confidence was as low as it could get. It had lost the tour opener to Sri Lanka's second string team by an embarrassing margin of 10 wickets and subsequently lost the three-match ODI series 3-0 even after Sri Lanka rested some of its key players for the last game. Then, the Bangladeshis struggled in a three-day warm-up game in Colombo, which featured Sri Lanka's third string team and no one was expecting the tourists to be any match for the hosts.

But still, Bangladesh's fall within two and a half days and by an innings and 96 runs came as a surprise even to Sri Lanka's captain Marvan Atapattu, especially after the touring team had done so well in the first session of the Test after being put in to bat.

Bangladesh took lunch at 112 for two, scoring at four runs an over, and it extended that to 155 for two before a terrible shot by Mohammad Ashraful triggered a sensational collapse.

Ashraful, who scored a debut hundred against Sri Lanka four years ago, had put up 92 runs for the second wicket with captain Habibul Bashar and the tourists were progressing smoothly when the 20-year-old marched down to clear left-arm spinner Rangana Herath but ended up giving a catch to Dilhara Fernando at mid-off. Bangladesh then lost its last eight wickets for only 33 runs as Herath and Muttiah Muralitharan ran through the side.

Muralitharan claimed three for 42, while Herath claimed his best bowling figures (four for 38).

Captain Bashar top-scored with 84 before falling to a debatable run-out decision. He smashed 12 exquisite fours as he recorded his 21st half-century.

Sri Lanka ended day one at 160 for three after losing Jayasuriya, Atapattu and Sangakkara with the wicket taking plenty of turn and some deliveries keeping low.

Mahela Jayawardene, Thilan Samaraweera and Tillekeratne Dilshan scored half centuries with Dilshan top-scoring with 86. Dilshan fell to the second new ball and almost immediately Sri Lanka declared the innings at 370 for nine with a first innings lead of 182 runs.

Left-arm spinner Mohammed Rafique was the only Bangladeshi bowler to impress claiming five wickets for 114 runs, his seventh five-wicket haul in Tests. However, there was insufficient support from the other end as Bangladesh badly felt the absence of Mashrafe bin Mortaza and Tapash Baisya, who were sent back home due to injuries.

The Premadasa Stadium was the venue of the historic Test Match when Sri Lanka scored a world record 952 for six against India in 1998. But it hadn't hosted a Test match for seven years as Colombo came to be allotted just one Test and that was held at the elite SSC grounds.

The Premadasa pitch was an ally of spin from the second session onwards and Bangladesh was in discomfort in its second innings as spin maestro Muralitharan posed many a question to its top-order.

After opener Javed Omar had been dismissed by Lasith Malinga, Muralitharan was pressed into the attack in the eighth over of the innings with the light fast fading. He castled left-hander Shahriar Nafees with his third delivery, a doosra.

The next ball Mohammad Ashraful went on the backfoot and was plumb in front as the delivery kept low. Bangladesh was tottering at 36 for three when bad light and rain stopped play with 12 overs to go.

Habibul Bashar was the only man who could have restored some pride for the tourists, but the batsman added just two runs to his overnight score before being dismissed for 15.

Muralitharan, the Man of the Match, picked up six wickets for 18 runs in 10.2 overs extending his world record five-wicket hauls to 47 as Bangladesh was bowled out for a mere 86 in 27.4 overs, its lowest total. Its previous lowest Test score had been 87 against the West Indies in 2002.

"True it's a two and a half day game, but we don't want to insult the opposition and deprive them of competing with the big boys," Sri Lanka's captain Marvan Atapattu said.

However, he admitted that the victory had come easier than Sri Lanka expected. "We honestly didn't think that it'll come this easier after the way they batted and got to 155 for two just after lunch and then one bad shot changed everything for them allowing us to come back," he said referring to Mohammad Ashraful's dreadful shot in the first innings that triggered a sensational collapse allowing Sri Lanka to take a firm grip on the game.

The scores

First Test, Premadasa Stadium, Colombo, September 12 to 14. Sri Lanka won by an innings and 96 runs.

Bangladesh — 1st innings: Javed Omar c Sangakkara b Fernando 30; Shahriar Nafees b Malinga 3; Habibul Bashar (run out) 84; Mohammad Ashraful c Fernando b Herath 17; Tushar Imran b Herath 0; Aftab Ahmed c Samaraweera b Herath 0; Khaled Mashud c Samaraweera b Muralitharan 2; Mohammad Rafique lbw b Muralitharan 9; Syed Rasel st. Sangakkara b Herath 19; Shahadat Hossain lbw b Muralitharan 2; Enamul Haque (jnr) (not out) 0; Extras (b-8, lb-2, w-1, nb-11) 22; Total 188.

Fall of wickets: 1-4, 2-63, 3-155, 4-156, 5-156, 6-158, 7-158, 8-170, 9-176.

Sri Lanka bowling: Vaas 6-1-25-0; Malinga 8-1-44-1; Fernando 4-0-29-1; Muralitharan 14-1-42-3; Herath 12-4-38-4.

Sri Lanka — 1st innings: S. Jayasuriya c Aftab Ahmed b Shahadat Hossain 46; M. Atapattu lbw b Syed Rasel 18; K. Sangakkara c Mohammad Ashraful b Mohammad Rafique 30; T. Samaraweera c Khaled Mashud b Shahadat Hossain 78; M. Jayawardene c Khaled Mashud b Mohammad Rafique 63; T. Dilshan b Syed Rasel 86; C. Vaas lbw b Mohammad Rafique 5; R. Herath c Khaled Mashud b Mohammad Rafique 13; M. Muralitharan c Khaled Mashud b Mohammad Rafique 3; D. Fernando (not out) 1; Extras (lb-6, w-1, nb-20) 27; Total (for nine wkts. decl.) 370.

Fall of wickets: 1-41, 2-97, 3-130, 4-231, 5-295, 6-306, 7-337, 8-345, 9-370.

Bangladesh bowling: Syed Rasel 19.2-2-67-2; Shahadat Hossain 20-0-75-2; Mohammad Rafique 37-9-114-5; Enamul Haque (jnr) 33-8-106-0; Mohammad Ashraful 1-0-2-0.

Bangladesh — 2nd innings: Javed Omar c Sangakkara b Malinga 9; Shahriar Nafees b Muralitharan 13; Habibul Bashar c Sangakkara b Vaas 15; Mohammad Ashraful lbw b Muralitharan 0; Tushar Imran b Muralitharan 3; Aftab Ahmed c Samaraweera b Muralitharan 8; Khaled Mashud b Malinga 15; Mohammad Rafique c Samaraweera b Muralitharan 4; Syed Rasel b Malinga 1; Shahadat Hossain (not out) 5; Enamul Haque (jnr) st. Sangakkara b Muralitharan 2; Extras (b-4, w-5, nb-2) 11; Total 86.

Fall of wickets: 1-9, 2-35, 3-35, 4-39, 5-47, 6-50, 7-59, 8-73, 9-83.

Sri Lanka bowling: Vaas 10-4-31-1; Malinga 6-1-32-3; Muralitharan 10.4-4-18-6; Herath 1-0-1-0.