Bangladesh 365 (Mushfiqur 175*, Litton 141, Rajitha 5-64, Asitha 4-93) and 34 for 4 (Mushfiqur 14*, Litton 1*, Asitha 2-12) trail Sri Lanka 459 for 5 (Mathews 123*, Chandimal 120*, Shakib 3-83, Ebadot 2-114) by 107 runs
Angelo Mathews and Dinesh Chandimal, Sri Lanka’s two most senior batters, forged a 199-run stand to put the heat on Bangladesh. Sri Lanka lost their last five wickets cheaply, but then their quicks gutted the hosts’ top order for the second time in the Test to ratchet up the temperature further.
At the end of a fourth day in which Sri Lanka advanced more or less relentlessly, they stand in sight of a Test (and thus, series) victory. Bangladesh are still 107 runs behind, with four wickets down. But then the batters at the crease are Mushfiqur Rahim and Litton Das, who have already hit hundreds in this match, and there’s plenty of batting to come too. Still, aside from the period in which they lost their last five wickets for 49 runs, Sri Lanka dominated the day.
They were led by Chandimal and Mathews, who played out the first two sessions wicketless, even if their progress was sedate at times, thanks largely to Mathews’ muted strike rate. But with a session having been lost to rain on day three, the steady-but-safe approach had its merits. It allowed Mathews to get to his second hundred in as many Tests, even if it was the slowest on his record; he reached triple-figures off the 274th ball he faced. Chandimal hit a 12th Test hundred too, but having been almost as conservative as Mathews while compiling his first 50, switched gears thereafter, and pushed Sri Lanka forward at a quicker rate.
Chandimal was out for 124 off 219. Mathews remained not out at the end of Sri Lanka’s innings, having attacked a little more alongside the tail, to get to 145 off 342. Together they had built the platform from which Sri Lanka could push for victory.
In the 13 overs they could bowl to Bangladesh before stumps, Sri Lanka’s seamers ensured that victory push was in good health, taking three wickets between them. There was a direct-hit run-out as well, leaving the hosts 34 for 4 by the end of the day. Kasun Rajitha could have had Mahmudul Hasan Joy caught behind at the end of the first over, but no one appealed even though snicko suggested the batter had nicked it. He should have had Joy for 9 had Kamindu Mendis (substitute fielder) held a chance at third slip.
But it didn’t matter so much in the end. Asitha Fernando had Tamim Iqbal caught at second slip for zero in the next over. Then in Asitha’s next over, a prowling Praveen Jayawickrama threw down the stumps at the non-striker’s end to dismiss Najmul Hossain Shanto as he attempted a quick single.
Rajitha, Sri Lanka’s best bowler of the series, had Mominul Haque edging behind – a not-out decision that was overturned on review. And Asitha, whose bouncers have been a revelation this series, got another wicket off a short ball, as Joy fended at a chest-high delivery, and only got it as far as Kusal Mendis at second slip.
Litton then came in to bat ahead of Shakib (who had bowled more than 40 overs in the first innings, though Litton had kept wicket for more than 165), and survived the 11 balls he had to face till stumps. He and his overnight partner Mushfiqur had put on 272 together in the first innings.
Bangladesh thought they had got Mathews twice – once on 94 when he was given out caught behind off Khaled Ahmed, and on 105 when he was given lbw off Mosaddek Hossain – but both times Mathews overturned the on-field call, the first time proving he hadn’t hit the ball, the second time that he had edged it faintly onto his pads. Chandimal overturned a caught-behind review as well.
But their only true period of joy came in the third session, when they sent Sri Lanka from 465 for 5 to 506 all out. Ebadot Hossain started that process, having Chandimal caught athletically at cover by Tamim, with Sri Lanka’s lead on 100. He got Ramesh Mendis lbw not long after too. Shakib completed his five-for either side of that Ramesh wicket; he had Niroshan Dickwella and Jayawickrama caught behind.
Shakib finished with an innings analysis of 5 for 96, having easily been Bangladesh’s most-threatening bowler through the very long innings. Ebadot took 4 for 148. The last Sri Lanka wicket was a run out, and Taijul Islam undeservedly went wicketless from his 49 overs, conceding 124.
Andrew Fidel Fernando is ESPNcricinfo’s Sri Lanka correspondent. @afidelf