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Tigers mark 100th Test by conquering Lanka
Bangladesh's cricketers have responded to all the attention surrounding their 100th Test match by earning a hard-fought victory by four wickets- only their 9th overall, of which just four have come away from home.
Given that the first two came against a severely depleted West Indies side in the middle of a strike in 2009, and the third against Zimbabwe in terminal decline in 2013, it may well go down as the team's best performance in any one match of the first 100.
It was also of course the very first win for BD against Sri Lanka in Tests, home or away, And it has come in the 2nd and last match of the Joy Bangla Cup series at the P Sara Oval, Colombo on Sunday.
Bangladesh can also claim sth of a drawn first away victory in this year, after four consecutive losses, recorded a 1-1 draw in the series also the first-ever against Sri Lanka. Among their previous 17 Tests meetings, Bangladesh managed two draws against 15 defeats against Sri Lanka.
Chasing a target of 191 runs on the final day's play, the Tigers (467 runs in the 1st innings) opened the 2nd innings and reached their destination in the 3rd session playing 57.5 overs for the cost of six wickets. It was never going to be quite straightforward, and Tigers fans knew this.
Whether part of the small contingent at the ground, or glued to a screen across stations around the world, they wouldn't get to relax till Mehedi Hasan Miraz collected the two runs off Lankan skipper Rangana Herath to seal the victory, Mushfiqur remaining there unbeaten on 22 runs.
A disciplined, then counter-attacking partnership of 109 runs for the 3rd wicket between their highest run-scorer Tamim Iqbal and promising young batsman Shabbir Rahman has carried Bangladesh to the cusp of a historic victory.
Tamim was eventually dismissed for 82 leaving the team's total on 131/3, chasing 191 to win, for the 3rd away win in 100 Tests for Bangladesh, with the earlier two coming against a severely depleted West Indies in 2009.
Lankan spin legend Rangana Herath had earlier set nerves jangling in the Bangladesh camp with a wicked 2-wicket burst to get rid of Soumya Sarkar and Imrul Kayes prior to lunch. That brought together Shabbir and Tamim, and there followed a torrid half hour or so till lunch was taken, with Bangladesh still a bit wobbly in their chase at 38/2.
But that was to be the hardest passage they had to endure, and after coming out for the 2nd session, both batsmen reaped the dividends of their early grafting, as the runs started to flow. Sri Lanka's bowlers looked spent, and Tamim and Shabbir made hay, literally as the sun shone in the first hour of the post-lunch session.
With tea imminent, Shabbir too fell for 41, and making Tigers fans jittery once again, fearing a collapse with the team's total on at 143/4 in 40.5 overs just 48 short of their target.
The most experienced pair of Shakib Al Hasan and Mushfiqur Rahim was at the crease on 12 and 6, with the team's total of 156/4 in 46 overs, just 35 short of their target at tea.
Dilruwan Perera delivered Shakib (15) a short ball which was too close to off to cut, Shakib took an attempt forcing cut and chopped it back onto the off stump, but the bail falls down dramatically at 162/4 in 48.1 overs.
Mosaddek Hossain and Mushfiqur started in the 6th pair, but Mosaddek was out for 13 runs keeping his side just two runs away to win at 189/5 in 57 runs.
Tamim Iqbal and Soumya Sarkar started confidently, after Sri Lanka had batted nearly an hour in the morning session to add what may turnout to be 51 crucial runs to their overnight total of 268/8.
Bangladesh had a run out to thank for finally breaking the overnight partnership at the crease, after they put on an invaluable 80 runs for the 9th wicket. The innings was wrapped up soon after that, with Shakib al Hasan snaring his 4th wicket as SL were all out for 319 in their second innings.
Bangladesh started their chase brightly, with both openers - Tamim Iqbal and Soumya Sarkar, on the back of three consecutive 50-plus opening partnerships - looking positive as they set about getting the runs. But at 22/0, disaster struck in the 8th over, as Rangana Herath struck twice in the space of two deliveries to rock the Tigers' batting, and leaving fans fearing the worst.
Soumya was the first, looking to use his feet but getting beaten by the wily Herath's subtle variation of flight, leaving him to sky it for an easy catch at mid-off.The very next ball, his first, Imrul Kayes edged one that didn't turn through to Gunaratne, who was happy to oblige by taking the catch safely. Bangladesh were 22/2 and the Lankans were now smelling blood.
But new batsman Shabbir Rahman, reining in his attacking instincts, and the experienced Tamim were able to arrest the slide and play out another 7 overs till lunch without further damage.
Dilruwan Perera and Rangana Hearth captured three wickets each for 59 and 75 runs respectively.
Earlier, Sri Lanka started the day with a139-run lead and frustrated the Tigers a bit with their two wickets as the overnight 9th pair between Dilruwan Perera and Suranga Lakmal carried the lead to 190 runs before a run out arrived with somne luck for Bangladesh.
Lankan innings finished soon as Shakib Al Hasan bagged Lakmal (42), caught by Mosaddek Hossain, at innings final collection.
Perera and Lakmal partnership lasted 21.2 overs in the 9th pair to contribute 80 runs that carried the team total to 318/9 in 112.4 overs, starting on day four from 238/8 in 91.2 overs.
Shakib captured four wickets for 74 runs in the 2nd innings while Mustafiz bagged three for 78 runs for Bangladesh.
Mehedi Hasan Miraz collected two runs in the last ball to draw the winning line off to Lankan skipper Rangana Herath in the match last ball when The Tigers Mushfiqur Rahim scored unbeaten 22 runs.
Sri Lanka 1st innings: 338/10 in 113.3 overs; Dinesh Chandimal 138, Suranga Lakmal 35, Dhananjaya de Silva 34, Niroshan Dickwella 34, Mehedi Hasan Miraz 3/90, Mustafizur Rahman 2/50, Subashis Roy 2/53, Shakib Al Hasan 2/80.
Sri Lanka 2nd innings: 319/10 in 113.2 overs(overnight 268/8 in 100 overs); Dimuth Karunaratne 126, Kusal Mendis 36, Upul Tharanga 26, Dilruwan Perera 50, Suranga Lakmal 42, Shakib Al Hasan 4/74, Mustafizur Rahman 3/78,Taijul Islam 1/38, Mehedi Hasan Miraz 1/71.
Bangladesh 1st innings: 467/10 in 134.1 overs; Shakib Al Hasan 116, Mosaddek Hossain 75, Soumya Sarkar 61, Mushfiqur Rahim 52, Tamim Iqbal 49, Sabbir Rahman 42, Imrul Kayes 34, Mehedi Hasan Miraz 24, Rangana Herath 4/82, Lakshan Sandakan 4/104.
Bangladesh 2nd innings: 191/6 in 57.5 overs; Tamim Iqbal 82, Sabbir Rahman 41, Mushfiqur Rahim 22*, Mosaddek Hossain 13 Shakib Al Hasan 15, Soumya Sarkar 10, Dilruwan Perera 3/59, Rangana Hearth 3/75.