After a brilliant century from Tamim Iqbal (133 retd hurt), Liton Das (54 not out) and Mushfiqur Rahim (53 not out) were holding the fort for Bangladesh, who ended Day 3 on 318/3, still trailing Sri Lanka by 79 runs in the first Test, here on Tuesday.
After losing three crucial wickets in the afternoon session, Rahim and Liton batted through the final session on Day 3 helping Bangladesh rebuild their innings.
Trailing by 327 runs, Bangladesh started the third day with both their openers in excellent touch. The morning session turned out to be an ideal one for the hosts, as the openers were able to convert their starts into good scores, and extended their opening partnership to 159 runs.
Tamim Iqbal was the aggressor in the partnership, while Mahmudul Hasan Joy dropped anchor at the other end. Runs came thick and fast for Bangladesh in the first hour as the batters maintained a run rate of around four an over.
Tamim soon brought up his 32nd Test half-century and continued to dominate the Sri Lankan bowlers. Mahmudul too followed suit and completed his second Test fifty. The Lankans were poor in the field, failing to grab the chances that came their way. Both openers received reprieves as Bangladesh went to lunch at 157/0.
Pacer Vishwa Fernando following a blow on his helmet off Shoriful Islam's short delivery in the afternoon session of Day 2, continued to bowl in the morning session of Day 3 but was later ruled out of the Test and medium-pacer Kasun Rajitha came in as a concussion substitute for him.
The afternoon session went in Sri Lanka's favour as they managed to make a comeback by scalping three wickets in the session. First to depart was Mahmudul, who was undone by a short delivery from Asitha Fernando and edged it to the wicketkeeper for 58. Tamim, on the other hand, soon brought up his 10th Test ton.
The first bowling change of the session brought another wicket for Sri Lanka. Concussion replacement Kasun Rajitha struck in his very first over and dismissed Najmul Hossain Shanto on 1. Bangladesh skipper Mominul Haq (2) followed Shanto to the pavilion early when Rajitha got rid of him with a beautiful in-swinging delivery, an ICC report said.
Tamim was then joined by Mushfiqur Rahim in the middle and both the batters steadied the ship, however, the session could have gone even better for Sri Lanka if Dhananjaya de Silva had grabbed the catch of Tamim when he was on 114. Tamim survived a close caught behind call off Mendis on 102 and later edged one to slips, only to be dropped by De Silva.
Tamim and Mushfiqur made sure Bangladesh did not lose any more wickets as they went for Tea at 220/3. Post tea-break, it was all about rebuilding the innings for Bangladesh. After batting through the opening and the afternoon sessions, Tamim struggled because of the heat and had to retire hurt.
With three wickets down and their top batter in the pavilion, the job of stabilising the Bangladesh innings fell on Mushfiqur and Liton Das. They batted sensibly and avoided unnecessary risks. The Sri Lankan spinners bowled the majority of the overs in the final session but were unable to find a breakthrough.
Liton, who had scored most of his runs in the square region, brought up his fifty with a boundary towards mid-wicket, while Mushfiqur also completed his half-century with a single on the on-side. Bangladesh finally finished their day on 318/3, with both Liton and Musfiqur solid at the crease.
Brief scores: Sri Lanka 397 lead Bangladesh 318/3 (Tamim Iqbal 133 retd hurt, Liton Das 54 not out; Kasun Rajitha 2-17) by 79 runs.
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