Mar 102013

Big centuries from captain Mushfiqur Rahim and former skipper Mohammad Ashraful carried Bangladesh to 438 for four – and a deficit of just 132 – in reply to Sri Lanka’s first-innings score of 570 for four declared on day three of the first Test at the Galle International Stadium on Sunday.

Rahim and Ashraful’s 261-run alliance became the highest partnership in Bangladesh’s 13-year Test history and Ashraful’s 189 not out took him past his own record for the country’s highest individual score. Mushfiqur was still with him on an unbeaten 152.

Sri Lanka’s only successes during the day came in the first session as Monimul Haque was removed for 55 by Nuwan Kulasekara and Rangana Herath accounted for Mahmudullah for a duck.

Monimul’s 83-ball effort came to an end when he edged to Angelo Mathews at slip. Mohammad Mahmudullah followed in the next over as he went down the pitch and found himself stumped by Dinesh Chandimal.

At that point Bangladesh were 177 for four and the concerns over their batting line-up in the absence of injured star Tamim Iqbal seemed well founded. But Ashraful and Mushfiqur allayed them with disciplined efforts to negate the threat of Sri Lanka’s seamers.

Left-arm spinner Herath toiled away for little further reward, ending the day with figures of one for 103 from 42 overs and Ajantha Mendis, returning to the side, was largely ineffective.

Ashraful, 65 not out overnight, went to his sixth Test century – and his fifth against Sri Lanka – in 181 balls with 10 fours and a six. He had found the boundary another 10 times before the close.

Mushfiqur’s century came from 162 deliveries with 12 fours. He offered a chance on 103 but Tillekeratne Dilshan dropped a caught and bowled opportunity.

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