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Rain affects Lanka’s progress

CRICKET: Sri Lanka were well on course to completing a three nil clean sweep having taken the initiative on the opening day of their third and final Test match against Bangladesh at the Asgiriya International Stadium in Kandy yesterday.

Bangladesh after been put into bat for the third successive occasion in the series struggled to reach 72 for 4 in their first innings before bad light halted play at 4.50 p.m. Only 29 overs and 111 minutes of play was possible on a gloomy day and the second days play of the match is scheduled to start at 10.00 a.m today.

Skipper Mohamed Ashraful and Tushar Imran were battling out to save their team from another humiliation under trying conditions against some fantastic spin bowling from home town hero Muttiah Muralitharan. In fact spin wizard Muralitharan was bowling with his tail up having captured the prize wicket of Shahriar Nafeez shortly before the close of play.

The solid left hander was turning out to be a severe headache for the Lankans having occupied the crease almost the entire first day. But Muralitharan was able to produce an extra ordinary delivery that caused the downfall of Nafeez at a vital stage of the innings.

Nafeez looked like batting through the innings but his knock was cut short at 29 after having stroked four boundaries from 77 balls. Muralitharan brought his tally to 98 wickets at the Asgiriya Stadium and finished the day with excellent figures of 2 for 10 from nine overs. He is now 18 wickets short of overtaking the World record of 708 wickets held by the retired Australian spinner Shane Warne.

Earlier Sri Lanka were frustrated twice within a short period of time in their attempt to dominate the proceedings with the occasional showers playing havoc.

Mahela Jayawardena’s men were beginning to dictate terms when play was halted after just one hour of play with the visitors on 48 for 1.

Paceman Lasith Malinga revealed in perfect overcast conditions as he picked up a wicket in only his second over of the innings. Javed Omar was his victim as the Bangladesh opener was comprehensively beaten by a typical yorker. Omar had started his innings on a promising note having stroked two beautiful fours off the same bowler.

However Malinga took his revenge almost immediately by going through the defence of Omar with probably the best delivery of the day. Sri Lanka were quite anxious to get on with their act as they introduced off spinner Muttiah Miuralitharan as early as in the 13 th over of the innings.

Muralitharan who started the day needing only four victims to complete one hundred wickets at the Asgiriya Stadium could send down only one over as the heavens opened out at 11.24 a.m and the players were forced to have early lunch.

The clouds cleared up and play was scheduled to re commence at 1.30 p.m before another heavy shower shattered their hopes. Play eventually got underway at 1.53 p.m and Sri Lanka immediately struck by removing Habibul Bashar for 18 runs. The former Bangladesh captain who was promoted in the batting order was shaping up well before he received a nasty delivery from seamer Farveez Maharoof.

Maharoof certainly had something to prove after having overlooked for the first two Test matches which Sri Lanka won both by an innings at the SSC grounds and P.

Saravanamuttu Stadium respectively. He was able to get a great amount of lift and bounce from the wicket during the six overs he bowled.

Sujeewa de Silva’s return to Test cricket was restricted to a four over spell during which time he impressed with a couple of good deliveries. But it was Farveez Maharoof who provided the vital breakthrough at a time when the Sri Lankans needed it most. Habibul Bashar and Shahriar Nafeez looked like taking Bangladesh into a safe position having brought up their fifty runs in 12.3 overs.

Bashar had stroked three delightful boundaries from 26 balls before he was surprised by a Maharoof delivery with the total on 50.

Sri Lanka made three changes to their team that won the first two Test matches while including opening batsman Upul Tharanga, pacemen Sujeewa de Silva and Farveez Maharoof in place of Malinda Warnapura, Dilhara Fernando and Chaminda Vaas.

Bangladesh also made two changes as they brought in Tushar Imran and Syed Rasel replacing Mohammad Sharif and Mehrab Hossain.

BANGLADESH 1ST INNINGS

Javed Omar lbw b Malinga 		8 
Shahriar Nafees c De Silva b Muralitharan 	29 
H. Bashar c P. Jayawardene b Maharoof	18 
R. Saleh c M. Jayawardene b Muralitharan 	0 
Mohammad Ashraful not out 		4 
Tushar Imran not out 			6 
Extras: (b4, lb1, nb1, w1) 		7 

TOTAL (for four wickets) 		72 

FALL OF WICKETS: 1-10 (Omar), 2-50 (Bashar), 
		3-61 (Saleh), 4-64 (Nafees). 
BOWLING: Malinga 6-2-22-1 (w1), De Silva 4-1-8-0, Maharoof 6-2-21-1 (nb1), 
		Muralitharan 9-5-10-2, Dilshan 4-1-6-0
 

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