Bangladesh comfortably batted out the final session of the fifth day to draw the weather-affected first Test against Sri Lanka in Pallekele on Sunday. (More Cricket News)
With a lead of 107 runs and two sessions left, Sri Lanka had their hopes high after claiming two early Bangladesh wickets after lunch, but an aggressive knock by opener Tamim Iqbal snuffed out their hopes of securing a result. No play was possible after tea due to rain.
Suranga Lakmal started brightly by dismissing Saif Hassan (1) and Najmul Shanto (0) but the attacking Tamim kept his head, regularly finding boundaries during his steady knock.
Tamim followed up his first-innings 90 with a 74 in the second, punishing the Sri Lankan bowlers whenever they erred. He confidently drove and pulled the seamers while against spin, he danced down the pitch and lofted them without allowing any to settle.
He faced just 98 deliveries for his 74 that included ten fours and three sixes, all off Dhananjaya de Silva.
Sri Lanka had posted a huge 648-8 declared in their first innings in reply to Bangladesh's 541-7. It was Sri Lanka's seventh highest total in a Test.
Captain Dimuth Karunaratne completed a maiden double hundred after coming into the game under pressure following a string of low scores in the Caribbean.
Karunaratne batted for 11 and half hours for his 244 from 437 deliveries that included 26 fours. Together with Dhananjaya de Silva, he batted through day four and by the time the partnership was broken on the fifth morning, the duo had added a massive 345 runs for the fourth wicket.
The match appeared to be heading for a draw until the two quick wickets on the final morning. Dhananjaya dragged one onto his stumps after making 166 from 291 balls with the help of 22 fours while Karunaratne was caught at mid-wicke. Taskin Ahmed dismissed both batters.
Sri Lanka had gone for quick runs en route to amassing their huge total and their 107-run lead but the wicket had not deteriorated enough for their bowlers to be effective.
Fast bowler Lahiru Kumara has been ruled out of the series with a hamstring injury and Karunaratne confirmed Sri Lanka have recalled left-arm wrist spinner Lakshan Sandakan and seamer Chamika Karunaratne as replacements for the second test that will be also played in Kandy starting on April 29.
Man of the match Karunaratne was pleased with his effort despite the team failing to secure victory.
"When you play a test you have to be mentally prepared to be on the field all five days, whether that's fielding or batting. Yes, you can feel it in your body when you've been fielding a couple of days, but when you get a chance to bat, you've got to take that opportunity," he said.
"Even in the West Indies I got a start a couple of times but couldn't make a big score. So once I got a start and got set here, I really wanted to bat long, especially as they'd already made a big score."
His Bangladesh counterpart Mominul Haque said the draw was a fair result and was relieved that his team had bounced back after enduring a string of poor performances.
"It was a very good batting wicket where the bowlers had very little help. So I think it is best to accept a draw. Our bowlers tried really hard. Tamim set up our tone with his 90. It was an important innings."
Mominul also recorded his first overseas hundred in a Test during the match.