Bangladesh cricket team presented their stand-in skipper Mahmudullah a nice birthday gift when they salvaged a draw under pressure in the first Test against Sri Lanka in Chittagong on Sunday.
The Tigers were staring at a defeat once they lost a wicket in the final ball of the fourth day but Mominul Haque and Liton Das warded off the danger with a record 180-run fourth wicket stand on the fifth day.
Mominul earned a permanent slot in Bangladesh’s cricket folklore by becoming the first batsman from the country to score a century in both innings when he hit 105 off 174 balls to go with his 176 in the first innings.
Liton, however, missed out on a personal feat, as he fell six runs short of his maiden Test century owing to an extravagant shot that nearly had brought back the trouble for the Tigers.
The wicketkeeper-batsman wanted to complete his century with a six off left-arm spinner Rangana Herath but could not add enough power to his shot to cover the distance.
Dilruwan Perera ran towards his back from mid-off to take a fine catch, sending Liton back for 94 run after he faced 182 balls and hit 11 fours.
Perera then decided to review a caught behind appeal off his own bowling against Mosaddek Hossain, which, with a success could have triggered a collapse for Bangladesh.
With more than a session sill left and Bangladesh’s lead just hovering over 80, skipper Mahmudullah and Mosaddek conceded the next two overs as maiden to go for tea break.
They batted for an hour after the tea break without being too ambitious, forcing Sri Lanka to accept the draw, with Bangladesh sitting pretty with 307-5 in their second innings.
Mahmudullah, who was celebrating his 32nd birthday, remained at the crease on 28 not out alongside Mosaddek Hossain (8 not out) when the stumps were drawn on the final day.
The Tigers owed the result to Mominul, who showed no sign of nerve once he stepped in to the crease on the fifth day with Liton.
Mominul, 18 not out overnight, hit Herath a six straight over the head of the bowler on the fifth day to signal his positive intent.
Sri Lanka tried everything against him in vain before Lahiru Kumara hit him on his helmet with a short ball.
An unfazed Mominul stood back in the next ball to score single which also made him the highest single run-getter in a Test match for Bangladesh, overtaking Tamim Iqbal’s 231 against Pakistan at Khulna in 2015.
The only serious blemish in his innings was an inside edge on a low Herath delivery on 89, but Sri Lankan wicketkeeper Niroshan Dickwella failed to grab a low catch.
By the time he prodded a ball of Dhananjaya de Silva to Dimuth Karunaratne at slip Mominul completed his second century in the game, and sixth Test century overall with a single off Lakshan Sandakan.
The rest was nothing more than a mere formality in the game.
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