Mendis fifty lifts Sri Lanka's momentum

Tea Sri Lanka 155 for 3 (Mendis 80*, Gunaratne 26*) v Bangladesh
Live scorecard and ball-by-ball details

Mustafizur Rahman had returns of 0 for 22 in the morning session © AFP

Tight lines, and a strange, defensive innings from Dinesh Chandimal slowed Sri Lanka, but an increasingly confident Kusal Mendis saw out the session to guide them to 155 for 3 by tea. The Bangladesh bowlers were forced to come to grips with the placidity of this surface in the second session – they were as disciplined after lunch as they had been in the first session, only the surface had ceased to offer almost any seam movement, and was too firm still to provide much turn.

While Chandimal languished at one end after lunch, Mendis parsed the spin, rode out a testing spell from Taskin Ahmed, then conquered a short-ball attack from Subhashis Roy. His innings will always have that flicked drive through midwicket, but in this session, it was the swat-pull past square leg that defined his progress. Subhashis beat the hook shot once with a head-high bouncer, and soon hit the top of the bat with another short ball, but neither of those mis-steps cost Mendis his wicket; the batsman was in almost total control otherwise. He reached his fourth career fifty with a tickle to fine leg, and accelerated a little following the milestone. He went to the break with 80 off 136 balls having reached the half-century off his 101st ball.

Chandimal’s long, fruitless stay at the crease was not tortured – only occasionally did the ball beat his bat or cause him strife – but it was unambitious in the extreme. Even the half volleys and short, wide deliveries were sometimes allowed to go through to the wicketkeeper unmolested, and the balls heading for the stumps were routinely dead batted.

Why he embraced this ultra-conservative approach is unclear, particularly as he had just clattered 190 off 253 against the same attack in the tour match last week. Whatever the case, he only succeeded in taking time out of the game. Midway through the afternoon, a sudden burst of energy overtook him: he attempted to flay Mustafizur through the covers, then tried to slash him a little squarer next ball. The first shot was mistimed, and yielded no run. The second attempt sent a thick outside edge directly to gully, who gobbled up the catch. Chandimal ended with only 5 runs to show for 54 balls and 71 minutes at the crease.

Chandimal’s vigil was brought into relief by Asela Gunaratne, who found the boundary off the loose first ball he faced, but set about seeking out scoring opportunities. Mendis seemed more comfortable in his company as well, as the pair rotated the strike comfortably as the tea break drew close. Gunaratne’s share in their 63-run stand so far is 26 off 42 balls.

Shakib Al Hasan was the most economical of Bangladesh’s bowlers after lunch, but he also seemed the least likely to gain a wicket, so quick was he through the air. Mehedi Hasan was more aggressive, and occasionally wayward. Mustafizur bowled more cutters in the second session than he had in the first, and it was in fact with one that broke slightly to off that he got Chandimal’s wicket. Taskin, meanwhile, can count himself unlucky to remain wicketless after several bustling spells.

That Mendis is still at the crease will particularly irk Subhashis, however, who thought he had dismissed the batsman for a golden duck in the first session, only for replays to show he had overstepped. Nevertheless, Subhashis had made the first incision, darting a ball back off the seam to rattle Upul Tharanga’s stumps. Mehedi had had Dimuth Karunaratne cutting too close to his body to make the second breakthrough.

Andrew Fidel Fernando is ESPNcricinfo’s Sri Lanka correspondent. @andrewffernando

© ESPN Sports Media Ltd.

Source: ESPN Crickinfo

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