Asitha makes it Sri Lanka’s day despite Mahmud’s fightback

Sri Lanka

Sri Lanka 531 and 102 for 6 (Mathews 39*, Madushka 34, Mahmud 4-52) lead Bangladesh 178 (Zakir 54, Asitha 4-34, Kumara 2-19) by 455 runs

Asitha Fernando put Bangladesh on the backfoot with a four-wicket haul, as the hosts collapsed to 178 all out on the third day in Chattogram. Sri Lanka themselves slipped to 102 for 6 with debutant Hasan Mahmud picking up four of those wickets. But the visitors’ lead stands at a formidable 455 runs at stumps after they didn’t enforce the follow-on on Bangladesh.

The Sri Lankan fast bowlers attacked in pairs and benefited greatly from captain Dhananjaya de Silva’s innovative field placings. Vishwa Fernando, Lahiru Kumara and Prabath Jayasuriya took two wickets each as Bangladesh slipped from 96 for 1 to be bowled out in the next 35.5 overs.

It was also their fifth successive sub-200 score in Tests, as their batting crumbled on either side of the lunch break on the third day.

Bangladesh started the day confidently. For the first time in the series, two home batters – Zakir Hasan and nightwatcher Taijul Islam – looked in some control. Zakir, unbeaten overnight on 28, struck two confident fours in the first two overs. He reached his fourth Test fifty with a streaky four but looked mostly in control.

Sri Lanka had a few whiffs of a wicket but Zakir and Taijul kept them at bay for an hour and 19 minutes in the morning session. That changed spectacularly when Vishwa burst an inswinger through Zakir sending the leg-stump for a cartwheel. Soon after, Prabath got Najmul Hossain Shanto to chip one to short midwicket.

Bangladesh lost a third wicket in three overs when the left-arm quick Vishwa got another of his fast in-duckers ripping through Taijul’s defences. The nightwatcher, sent in at No. 3 on the second evening, resisted for an impressive 61 balls.

Sri Lanka continued the pressure after lunch when Asitha set up Shakib Al Hasan with a two-card trick. After bowling a series of short balls, he surprised the left-hander with a full ball that struck his front pad plumb. Shakib in his first Test innings in almost 12 months fell for 15.

Three balls later, Asitha removed Litton Das. The wicketkeeper-batter, under fire for his careless shot in Sylhet last week, struck a nice cover drive before edging a straight, slightly wide delivery from Asitha. Kumara then got Shahadat Hossain to edge one to second slip.

Sri Lanka dropped two catches around this time, while Mominul Haque became the fourth Bangladeshi batter to reach 4,000 Test runs. The experienced left-hander batted confidently on the ground where he has seven Test centuries. But Asitha’s yorker resulted in his lbw dismissal, for 33. Khaled Ahmed fell in Asitha’s next over, another yorker, giving the fast bowler his fourth wicket of the innings.

The pacers’ domination continued in Chattogram when Mahmud and Khaled rocked Sri Lanka with six wickets.

Dimuth Karunaratne and Kusal Mendis were cleaned up by Mahmud and Khaled respectively. Mahmud then removed Nishan Madushka, Dinesh Chandimal and Dhananjaya in consecutive overs in his second spell.

Madushka struck one to extra cover while Shahadat Hossain finally caught one in the slips, removing Chandimal for 9. De Silva was caught behind for 1, as Mahmud was rewarded for his off-stump channel consistency.

Khaled rounded up the day with Kamindu Mendis’ wicket, edging one behind the wicket for 9. Captain Shanto took the timely review which showed the edge. Bangladesh’s fielders enjoyed the wickets; at one stage, five fielders from the slip cordon chased an edge to the boundary much to the tiny crowd’s glee. The players walked off slightly happier than earlier in the day although they have a mountain to climb in the fourth innings.

Mohammad Isam is ESPNcricinfo’s Bangladesh correspondent. @isam84

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