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Magical Mominul does it for Tigers

Azad Majumder . Chittagong

Bangladesh batsman Mominul Haque cuts the ball on his way to his match saving hundred during the fifth day of their second and final Test match against Sri Lanka at the Zahur Ahmed Chowdhury Stadium in Chittagong on Saturday. — AP photo Bangladesh batsman Mominul Haque cuts the ball on his way to his match saving hundred during the fifth day of their second and final Test match against Sri Lanka at the Zahur Ahmed Chowdhury Stadium in Chittagong on Saturday. — AP photo

Mominul Haque scored a fabulous unbeaten century to help Bangladesh defy the odds and secure a draw in the second and final Test against Sri Lanka in Chittagong on Saturday.
Sri Lanka accepted the draw with nearly an hour left before the scheduled close of play after Mominul survived a few anxious moments and pushed Nuwan Pradeep towards square leg to reach his century.
Set an improbable target of 467 with little over a day to bat, the Tigers never made an attempt to win, instead playing for a well-deserved draw at the Zahur Ahmed Chowdhury Stadium, arguably their luckiest venue.
This was Bangladesh’s fourth draw in their last eight Tests, with three of them coming after a full five days’ play, underlining their rapid improvement in the format, especially as a batting unit.
This was also a much-needed result for Bangladesh after the innings and 248-runs mauling in Dhaka, which had coincided with an ICC meeting that debated their Test status.
Sri Lanka, riding a triple century from Kumar Sangakkara, dominated the game from the beginning but Bangladesh never said die and kept believing in themselves, which yielded a result for them.
The Tigers went into the second innings with nine Test centurions in their batting line-up, a rare show of depth that would be the envy of even some of the strongest teams in history.
Hence there was no shortage of confidence even when the pitch started to favour the spinners from the fourth afternoon.
Sri Lanka may not have Muttiah Muralitharan in their line-up anymore, and they were also missing the services of the experienced Rangana Herath through injury, but spinners Dilruwan Perera and Ajantha Mendis posed significant danger on this low and slow pitch.
Bangladesh successfully negotiated the spin duo to finish their second innings at 271-3 before Mathews came up to offer the draw. The Tigers showed such authority on the fifth day that Mendis, Sri Lanka’s six-wicket hero in the first innings, went wicket-less in his second attempt.
Openers Tamim Iqbal and Shamsur Rahman deserve some credit for their 71-run stand, which denied Sri Lanka any kind of momentum in the second innings.
With the regular bowlers showing no sign of success, Mathews turned to part-time leg-break bowler Kithuruwan Vithanage, who was bowling for the first time in his short four-Test career.
Vithanage bowled Tamim for 31 to give Sri Lanka their first breakthrough, and first innings centurion Shamsur fell shortly after to Perera after playing a solid innings of 45.
On 91-2 at the lunch break after resuming play on 12-0 in the morning, Bangladesh were understandably nervous. When Perera trapped Imrul Kayes – the other first innings centurion – leg before for 25 in the second session, the uneasiness in the dressing room was bound to grow.
But Mominul and Sakib al Hasan frustrated Sri Lanka with a 120-run fourth-wicket stand that removed all nervousness.
They never opted for any typical defending, rather going for their shots whenever they had the opportunity, which helped to entertain the fans in an otherwise dull contest.
Mominul showed signs of nerves only when he approached his 100. However, unlike some of his team-mates who previously went for big shots to release the pressure in similar situations, the former BKSP boy was happy to get it with singles.
Mominul reaped his reward and scored the third Test century of his fledging seven-Test career, making him the new darling of Bangladesh cricket.
The Tigers have yet to lose a match in which Mominul has scored a century. Mominul had Sakib at the other end on 43 not out when the Tigers achieved the draw, perhaps indicating where the present and future of Bangladesh cricket lie.

Brief scores
Bangladesh 2nd innings 271-3 in 84.4 overs (Mominul 100 not out, Shamsur 45, Sakib 43 not out, Tamim 31; Perera 2-55) and 1st innings 426 (Shamsur 106, Imrul 115, Sakib 50, A Mendis 6-99, D Perera 3-119) v Sri Lanka 1st innings 587 (K Sangakkara 319, M Jayawardene 72, A Mendis 47, Sakib 5-148) and 2nd innings 305-4 dec (K Sangakkara 105, D Chandimal 100 not out).
Result: Match drawn.
Man of the match: K Sangakkara (SL)
Man of the series: K Sangakkara (SL)
Series: Sri Lanka win series 1-0.




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Magical Mominul does it for Tigers

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