Bangladesh had a day to rejoice in their Centenary Test when they had Sri Lanka at the receiving end for the first time in the two-Test series at the P Sara Oval yesterday.
Electing to bat first Sri Lanka found themselves up against a determined Bangladesh side that was overtly keen to make a huge impression to suit the occasion.
Sri Lanka finished the first day brought forward by seven overs due to bad light followed by heavy rain at 238 for seven wickets – not a score they would have wanted having taken first lease of a very sporty wicket that offered assistance to bowlers and to batsmen who had the patience to grind out an innings.
In that aspect vice captain Dinesh Chandimal stood tall to keep his team in the game batting for five minutes over five hours to be unbeaten on 86. His innings from 210 balls included just four fours.
Chandimal’s durable knock holding up one end prevented Bangladesh from running through the Lankan batting. It was the pressure brought about by the Bangladesh bowlers who bowled a lot of dot balls during the innings that caused the downfall of the Lankan batting, although there were a couple of dismissals that was self destructive.
Twice at 38 and at 46 Bangladesh thought they had Chandimal’s wicket – first for a bat/pad catch and secondly for a catch held at short fine leg by Mehedi Hasan which later turned out to be a bump catch. The only decision Bangladesh reviewed – an lbw decision against Rangana Herath went against them.
Although Bangladesh captain Mushfiqur Rahim lost the first round with the toss his team made up for it magnificently with a disciplined performance on the field that had the free scoring Lankan batsmen struggling to get the ball off the square.
The first three overs were maidens – the first time in Bangladesh’s history they have started a Test in this manner. The pressure built by the Bangladeshi bowlers told on the batsmen and Dimuth Karunaratne was the first to succumb to it chasing a wide delivery off Rahman and edging a catch to gully with his score on seven.
More success was to follow as Bangladesh switched over to spin in the eighth over and off-spinner Mehedi Hasan struck in his third over drawing Kusal Mendis forward to have him stumped for five.
Mehedi struck again four overs later to have Upul Tharanga pushing forward and getting an outside edge with his score on 11. Sri Lanka was then 35-3.
A brief recovery of sorts followed with Asela Gunaratne and Dinesh Chandimal figuring in a 35-run stand but when Sri Lanka were gradually gaining the ascendency Bangladesh broke through once again.
What led to Gunaratne’s downfall was the ball he faced prior to his dismissal. He was hit on the toe by a searing delivery from Subasish Roy that had him hopping around in pain. Off the following delivery Gunaratne was trapped plumb in front.
Dhananjaya de Silva dropped from the Galle Test and recalled here after Sri Lanka settled for their customary 7-4 combination held the innings together with Chandimal for 88 minutes that produced 66 valuable runs for the fifth wicket. But with his score on 34, De Silva attempted a pull shot off spinner Islam and was bowled as the ball dipped and kept low.
Niroshan Dickwella continued to play Test match cricket like he does in a one-day game and perished at 34 attempting a reverse sweep when the occasion demanded a more conservative approach.
Dilruwan Perera didn’t hang around too long but Herath once again displayed his determination to hang around till stumps unbeaten on 18 and on him and the rest of the tail lies the responsibility of giving as much support to Chandimal to get a decent total on the board.
Sri Lanka has never been bowled out in a home Test against Bangladesh for anything less than 346 and their overall lowest total in all Tests against Bangladesh is 293 at Dhaka in 2008. Bangladesh made four changes for this Test replacing injured wicket-keeper Liton Das, Mahmudullah, Taskin Ahmed and Mominul Haque with Imrul Kayes, Sabbir Rahman, Taijul Islam and debutant Mosaddek Hossain. Sri Lanka strengthened their batting by opting for Dhananjaya de Silva and dropping fast bowler Lahiru Kumara. Prior to the commencement of the Test, players of both teams were presented with medals to commemorate Bangladesh’s 100th Test match.(Daily News)