The declaration surprisingly came pretty late in the day from the Sri Lankan camp and the bowlers got very few overs to have a go at the Bangladesh batsmen. Soumya Sarkar was in ominous touch and compiled a 44 ball half-century to deny Sri Lanka any wickets.
The visitors were on 67/0 when bad light stopped play on day 4. The possibility of rain looms large and Bangladesh can save the Test if they apply themselves on the final day.
Brief Scores: Sri Lanka 494. Bangladesh 312. Sri Lanka 274/6 decl (Tharanga 115, Chandimal 50) Bangladesh 67/0 (Sarkar 53)
Here are the talking points from day 4 of the first Test at Galle.
#5 Karunaratne's form worries Lanka
Sri Lanka had just dropped Kaushal Silva from the Test team right before the start of the series. But Karunaratne would know that the axe could as well have been on him.
With Sri Lanka looking to set a target for Bangladesh on the 4th day, Karunaratne failed to score quickly enough, making 32 from 73 balls with just a solitary hit to the fence. When he did finally try to motor on, he top edged a pull from Taskin Ahmed to the deep fieldsman. With the threat of rain looming large all day, his sedate start is all the more baffling.
His scores in South Africa read 5, 43, 24, 6, 0 and 50, a trend that suggests that he was getting starts but failing to convert them. A double hundred against the England Lions last month seemed to have helped him retain a place in the side ahead of Kaushal Silva. But he would do well to not test the patience of the selectors.
#4 Upul Tharanga nails down opening spot
While the opening position is still a huge subject of debate in Sri Lanka after the failures of Kaushal Silva and Dimuth Karunaratne, Upul Tharanga, the experienced hand picked to replace Silva, smashed a fine hundred.
He hit a couple off Mustafizur to reach his half-century and unleashed two boundaries off the seamer in the final two balls of the same over to make his intentions clear. He kept attacking the spinners and even launched Shakib for a maximum down the ground after reaching his 3rd Test hundred.
The innings propelled Sri Lanka to a lead in excess of 400 on day 4. His drives and pull shots were right out of a textbook and this innings has surely sealed the fate of Kaushal Silva.
#3 Gunaratne brought back down to earth
Asela Gunaratne had been enjoying a great run in international cricket ever since his maiden hundred against the Proteas in the last match of the ODI series in South Africa.
The all-rounder went on to play a crucial role in the T20s in Australia and his form and performances earned him a place in the Test side, which was missing the presence of Angelo Mathews.
Gunaratne celebrated his return to the Test side with a superb half-century in the first innings, combining with Kusal Mendis to develop a 196-run partnership. However, his exploits came to a grinding halt as he was cleaned up for a duck by Shakib’s flighted delivery in the second innings.
#2 Late declaration
Upul Tharanga and Dinesh Chandimal had taken Sri Lanka to a formidable lead but the declaration never came from stand-in skipper, Rangana Herath. Bangladesh continued to set defensive fields and Sri Lanka proceeded to milk the spinners.
Even as tea arrived on day 4 with Sri Lanka leading by a mammoth 429, the declaration did not come. Chandimal and Dilruwan Perera smashed a few to the fence and added 27 more to the lead before Mustafizur had Perera edging behind. The dismissal, though, finally forced Herath’s hand.
With the threat of rain looming large, a huge target already achieved, and just a day's play remaining after today, the late declaration was a bizarre move by Herath and co. The fact that the highest successful run chase at Galle is 99 and the highest fourth innings total is 300 makes the decision to declare so late even more perplexing.
#1 Soumya Sarkar races to a half-century
The Bangladesh opener had been pretty upset with himself after his soft dismissal in the first innings. "It was the first ball of pace I faced today, so I shouldn't have played that shot," Sarkar had said as reported by ESPNCricinfo.
As if to make amends for his shot in the first innings, Sarkar began his second stint at the crease on a positive note. He was particularly harsh on Dilruwan Perera and Rangana Herath, drilling the duo with cuts and drives.
The southpaw raced to his second half-century in the game, this time off a mere 44 deliveries. Tamim Iqbal played second fiddle to him as Bangladesh frustrated Lanka with another good opening stand.