Sri Lanka set Bangladesh a tough target of 437 in the second Test Sunday, by declaring their second innings on 194 for nine at the hill city of Pallekele.
No team has reached such a large target in Test history.
The hosts, who resumed batting on day four from the overnight score of 17 for two, declared after lunch. Sri Lanka lost quick wickets but, with a first-innings lead of 242, had room to manouevre.
Skipper Dimuth Karunaratne top-scored with 66 runs. He finished the series with 428 runs in three innings, having scored a double hundred, a hundred and a half-century.
Bangladesh’s left-arm spinner Taijul Islam bagged his eighth five-wicket haul, for 72.
By the time bad light intervened on Day 4 in Pallekele, Bangladesh found themselves in all sorts of bother. They trudged off on 177/5, still 260 away from their daunting target.
Out to chase 437, Bangladesh had no shortage of intent as Tamim Iqbal came out firing. But he fell for only 24. Nazmul Shanto and Saif Hassan also went in with a positive approach but soon met the same fate as Tamim's. Jayawickrama scalped both and pegged back Bangladesh. Ramesh Mendis then took over and removed Mominul Haque (32) and Mushfiqur Rahim (40). Both the batters again looked set but their innings never took the game away from Lanka.
The weather forecast for Monday isn’t that soothing for Bangladesh as rains are expected to stay away. As far as Sri Lanka are concerned, they would want their spin twins of Jayawickrama and Mendis to keep up their good work and complete a clinical victory.
The greatest run chase in the history of Test cricket is the 418 made by the West Indies against Australia in 2003 in Antigua.
The most successful run chase at Pallekele, a picturesque hill resort, is 382 by Pakistan in 2015.
Should Bangladesh succeed in forcing a draw with 150 overs left in the game, Sri Lanka risks falling to their lowest world ranking.
The first Test ended in a draw after a festival of runs, the two sides scoring 1,289 for the loss of just 17 wickets over the five days.