Sri Lankan shines as Silva hits maiden Test 100

Wednesday, 29 January 2014 00:42 -     - {{hitsCtrl.values.hits}}

ESPNCricinfo: Sri Lanka strengthened their grip on the Test through steady accumulation, aided by a series of let-offs that allowed Kaushal Silva score his maiden Test century. Bangladesh needed to grasp all opportunities given their first-innings score of 232 that appeared inadequate after the opening day, but their performance in the field failed to complement the efforts of their seamers, particularly Al-Amin Hossain, who toiled with little luck. Sri Lanka stretched their lead to 143 and focused on grinding out the opposition to a position which would give them the luxury of batting just once. Silva displayed one of his biggest strengths – patience, and his ability to occupy the crease would have been deflating enough for Bangladesh, if the three let-offs weren’t bad enough. Silva’s stint could have ended on 39 – he went on to add exactly 100 more, by which time he had already shared two century stands, with Dimuth Karunaratne and Kumar Sangakkara. Bangladesh picked up only one wicket over the first two sessions, that of Karunaratne, but they ought to have seen the back of the other opener as well. To Bangladesh’s credit though, they created opportunities in an overcast morning session that assisted their seamers. The unluckiest bowler of the morning was Al-Amin, who was let down by a combination of poor catching – his captain one of the culprits – and the misfortune of his back foot hitting the stump on his delivery stride. Silva had his first life on 39 when he was squared up by Al-Amin’s probing line outside off and edged to the keeper Mushfiqur Rahim who grassed a straightforward take. Silva added one more to his score when he edged Al-Amin again to Rahim, who took it cleanly. The batsman, who had started walking, was asked to wait by the umpires who referred the verdict to the third umpire. Al-Amin’s front foot was behind the popping crease but unfortunately, his back foot knocked the bail down before delivery and as per the recent amendment to the laws, it was declared a no-ball. Silva escaped again, on 42, when he drove Al-Amin away from the body and edged low to Shamsur Rehman, who failed to catch it to his right at gully. Aside from those let-offs, Silva played some attractive shots, like when he lofted the offspinner Sohag Gazi down the ground and brought up his fifty with a boundary off a paddle sweep in the same over. Sri Lanka consolidated their position in the morning session with periods of watchful play, but after lunch, they added 98 without any further loss of wickets. There were more overs of spin post lunch, but Gazi and Shakib were, at times, guilty of dropping the ball too short. Shakib got away with one when Karunaratne punched a short one straight to cover, against the run of play, but Sangakkara ensured he found the gaps at cover. Sangakkara brought up the fifty stand with Silva with a glorious cover drive off Rubel but perhaps his most effortless shot of the day was a defensive push off Robiul Islam that sneaked past the stumps at the other end and beat two fielders chasing. Silva’s knock post lunch was relatively chanceless, though he had a close call on 98 when a ripper from Shakib turned, bounced and beat the edge and the stumps. He pulled a couple of freebies from Shakib down the leg side to head into the 90s and he reached the landmark with a similar pull off Shakib to the fine leg boundary. Silva punched the air as soon as he found the gap and the relief was palpable, considering he failed to achieve three-figures after making 95 and 81 recently against Pakistan. The new ball, taken after tea, was Bangladesh’s best hope of picking up wickets. Rahim brought back his best bowler, Al-Amin, and the ploy worked in getting rid of Sangakkara. A set Sangakkara, who batted with ease against the spinners, was all at sea against Al-Amin’s nagging line across the left-hander, and was squared up twice in an over. The exasperated seamer smiled at his own predicament, but his luck finally changed when Sangakkara played a loose cut and edged to first slip where Nasir Hossain juggled it twice and held the catch one-handed on the third attempt, with the second slip fielder waiting to pluck the rebound. The catch was a relief following the earlier sloppiness. Al-Amin bowled a shorter length to Silva with two men in the deep for the pull, but he didn’t get drawn into the trap. Silva was let off once more, on 129, when he edged Shakib to Rahim who failed to get his glove on the ball. Silva aggravated the pain with a six and a four off the following balls, making Shakib kick the air in frustration. Fortunately for Bangladesh, they saw the back of Silva in the same over when he was trapped lbw. Mahela Jayawardene and Dinesh Chandimal batted aggressively to stretch the lead. Jayawardene used his feet to the spinners and played his signature glides and nudges behind the wicket while Chandimal charged the spinners with sixes down the ground. Bangladesh picked up two late wickets but they still have a deep batting line-up to contend with, and a set Jayawardene. A better fielding effort on the third day will help limit the damage.