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* Ashraful hits century to ease pressure on tourists
* Tourists eat away at Sri Lanka lead (Updates at tea)
GALLE, March 10 (Reuters) - Mohammad Ashraful and skipper Mushfiqur Rahim shared an unbroken fifth wicket stand of 153 to edge Bangladesh closer to the follow-on mark on the third day of the first test against Sri Lanka on Sunday.
Bangladesh went to tea at 330 for four wickets in reply to Sri Lanka's first innings of 570 for four declared, requiring another 41 runs to avoid follow on.
Ashraful was unbeaten on 143 off 302 balls with 15 fours and one six and Rahim was eight runs shy of his second test hundred on 92 having struck 11 fours in the 150 balls he has faced.
The afternoon session was dominated by the duo who added 106 runs to the total.
Sri Lanka had a chance to break the partnership but Dimuth Karunaratne missed a sharp chance at silly point to dismiss Ashraful on 110 off the bowling of Rangana Herath.
Ashraful earlier celebrated his return to test cricket after a 15 month absence by reaching his sixth century in the morning session.
The pint-sized right-hander batted gracefully to score his fifth ton against Sri Lanka off 181 balls with 10 fours and a six.
Ashraful used the placid batting conditions to move from his overnight score of 65 to his century and raised his bat and punched the air in celebration after his first test hundred for almost five years.
Ashraful had enjoyed a third wicket stand of 105 with overnight partner Mominul Haque before the hosts made a quick double strike.
Seamer Nuwan Kulasekara managed to find the edge of Mominul's bat and Angelo Mathews took the catch at first slip to send him on his way for 55.
Seven runs later Mahmudullah (0) gave the charge to left-arm spinner Rangana Herath but missed to offer wicketkeeper Dinesh Chandimal an easy stumping. (Editing by Patrick Johnston)