Test cricket is all about uncertainties and the day 4 of the ongoing Test match between Sri Lanka and Bangladesh at the P Sara Oval match has been a classic example of that. The hard-fought three sessions on Saturday showed how the pendulum of the game can swing in opposite directions, within a short span. However, despite the relentless fight by the Sri Lanka middle and lower order, at the end of the day, it is the visitors, who have their noses ahead in this landmark match and this has been possible, primarily because of the bowling efforts of two individuals — Mustafizur Rahman aka Fizz and Shakib Al Hasan — Bangladesh’s two best strike bowlers.
In cricket, we often talk about batting partnerships. But on Saturday, the Fizz-Shakib pair showed the importance of bowling partnerships.
At Lunch, when Sri Lanka were well poised at 137 for 1. It seemed the match is heading for a draw. Dimuth Karunaratne and Kusal Mendis looked untroubled against the Bangladeshi attack in the first session. Also, there was no alarming turn at the wicket. Things were looking pretty settled for the hosts and the onus was on Bangladesh to make something happen.
And then came the masterstroke from Mushfiqur Rahim (The team management probably had their input as well). Desperate for a breakthrough, the Bangladesh skipper started the post-lunch session with two of his best bowlers – Shakib and Mustafiz.
Besides, to change things a bit, Fizz came around the wicket, to create an angle for the two right-handers and there was immediate result.
The final ball of the second over of the session, straightened after pitching Mendis poked at it. Though the decision of the on-field umpire was ‘Not Out’, but Bangladesh reviewed it and the third umpire ruled decision in favour of the fielding team despite not having conclusive evidence.
Meanwhile, that was the opening Bangladesh were looking for and it was followed by the match changing phase of 8.5 over, in which Sri Lanka lost 4 for 25 — all of a sudden from 165 for 2, the hosts were tottering at 190 for 6.
Fizz and Shakib hunted in pairs
Bangladesh knew, it was very hard to start as a new batsman on that wicket, especially when two of the best strike bowlers around, were bowling in tandem. From both ends, Fizz and Shakib complemented each other brilliantly. They were continuously attacking the batsmen and eventually, the duo got their due rewards.
Both bowled very tightly as there was hardly any freebie on offer for the batters. During the phase in the second session, Fizz bowled a seven-over spell, where Shakib bowled 11. Even as captain Mushfiq was proactive enough to set an attacking field, so that bowlers can bowl at one batsman for a longer period.
Fizz was bowling full, outside offstump and was getting the ball to reverse from around the wicket. The left-armer was also mixing it up with his cutters. Eventually, the first-innings centurion Dinesh Chandimal and Dhananjaya de Silva fell to his trap. Both were dismissed, caught behind while trying to poke at those deliveries.
At the other, Shakib’s discipline line fetched him three important scalps, which includes the centurion Dimuth Karunaratne — arguably the most important breakthrough of the innings, which turned the tide in favour of Bangladesh on their landmark 100th Test.