Bangladesh 133 for 2 (Sarkar 66*, Tamim 57) trail Sri Lanka 494 (Mendis 194, Gunaratne 85, Dickwella 75, Perera 51, Mehedi 4-113) by 361 runs
Scorecard and ball-by-ball details
Soumya Sarkar was dropped on 4 and went on to end the day at 66 not out © AFP
On another batting day at Galle, Sri Lanka swelled their score to a 494, before Bangladesh cruised to 133 for 2 by stumps. The bowlers were relentless in their attempts to shake this Test awake – Mehedi Hasan bowled aggressively to make dents in the Sri Lanka lower order, and Lakshan Sandakan delivered some ripping left-arm wristspin in the evening – but the pitch remained somnolent, and the teams more-or-less evenly placed.
On the batting front, Kusal Mendis squandered his chance to complete a maiden double-hundred, Niroshan Dickwella cracked his way to 75, Tamim Iqbal hit a half-century before running himself out, and a charmed Soumya Sarkar saw out the day on 66 not out. Among the cricket’s redeeming features, meanwhile, has been Sri Lanka’s positive outlook at the crease (they scored their runs at 3.82 an over), and the emergence of first hints of big turn. If the Galle pitch continues to descend into its familiar cantankerous mood through the back end of this match, Bangladesh will have to bat very well.
For now, it is the batsmen’s turn to hog the limelight, and no one has done that better than Kusal Mendis so far. He began the day on 166, but found his morning defined by two attempted sixes. The first, off Subashis Roy in the 95th over, was a hook shot gone awry – the mis-hit caught by Mustafizur Rahman at fine leg. The fielder, though, misjudged the position of the boundary, and trod on the rope while competing the catch. The umpire raised his arms to signal a six. Not seeing Mustafizur’s mistake, the bowler raised his arms in celebration. Dickwella, the non-striker, also raised his arms to suggest to Subashis that the ball had been carried over the boundary. Everyone had their hands up, and for a second they were standing around looking like bank tellers during an armed robbery.
The second attempted six, however, would cost Mendis his wicket. He stepped down the pitch to Mehedi and sought to deposit him over long-on. He didn’t quite get to the pitch, however, and this time, the mis-hit was controlled by Tamim Iqbal, who kept the ball in play by throwing it in the air, while he himself momentarily stepped over the boundary. That stroke had been an attempt to get to his maiden double hundred with a six – a sign that for all Mendis’ seeming maturity at the crease, he is not immune to the impetuous flashes of youth. He was out for 194.
While Bangladesh’s bowlers failed to muster the discipline they had managed in the first half of the first day, Mendis’ partner, Dickwella, was typically lively at the crease, launching the second ball he faced on the day over the leg side for six, and at times employing the reverse sweep that has recently served him well in the shortest format. He played the ramp stroke over the slips to hit the second of his successive boundaries off Taskin Ahmed in the 97th over, and brought up his second Test half century soon after, off the 52nd ball he faced. Mehedi eventually had him top-edging an attempted swipe over the leg side to dismiss him for 75. Dilruwan Perera then hit a brisk half century – largely in the company of the tail – to help propel Sri Lanka to the brink of 500.
Tamim and Soumya would go on to register Bangladesh’s first opening century stand in almost two years, but their progress was not always smooth. Soumya should have been out for 4 in the third over, had his outside edge been snared by Perera at gully off the bowling of Suranga Lakmal. Perera then became the bowler to have Tamim Iqbal dropped – on 28 – when wicketkeeper Dickwella failed to cling on to a thick outside edge.
Apart from those two errors, the openers were otherwise assured. They would often stride down the crease to knock the spinners down the ground, or launch them over the infield. Against the quicks, who were used in short spells, they rarely ventured a loose shot – Soumya lifting Lahiru Kumara languidly over the slips at one point.
It was only once both batsmen had almost reached fifty that Sandakan was brought into the attack. He began to cause problems almost immediately, regularly beating the bat and drawing inside-edges. For the first time in the Test, there seemed to be some turn in the surface. He can claim some credit in the dismissal of Tamim, though on the score sheet it went down as a run-out. A stock ball clipped Tamim’s pad en route to the keeper – it perhaps collected some part of the bat as well – and though Dickwella took the ball cleanly, Tamim believed the ball to have dribbled away towards fine leg, and took off for a run. The wicketkeeper only had to take the bails off.
Bangladesh will be disappointed that Mominul Haque got himself trapped in front only a few overs before stumps were drawn, but nevertheless, may feel they have plenty of batting left.
Andrew Fidel Fernando is ESPNcricinfo’s Sri Lanka correspondent. @andrewffernando
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Source: ESPN Crickinfo