Kusal Mendis

Sri Lanka's next generation step up against Tigers

Bangladesh v Sri Lanka, first Test, report

The bat is dominating at Chittagong so far, as Sri Lanka's top order responds strongly to Bangladesh's 513.

For a second day in succession, the bat has dominated proceedings at Chittagong. On an easy-paced surface that has yet to demonstrate the extravagant turn that traditionally marks the venue, we have seen exactly 700 runs made so far in two days of cricket. While the going has been tough for both sets of bowlers, especially the pacemen, all three results are still available, as this pitch threatens to crack up as the match wears on.

Bangladesh had first use, and didn't waste it. Underscored by Monimul Haque's 176 – almost entirely compiled on day one, but brought to a swift close in the third over today – and supported by the stand-in skipper Mahmadullah, whose classy 83* held the lower order together, Bangladesh racked up their fifth-highest score in Tests, milking Sri Lanka's attack for 513.

Mahmudullah held the lower order together
Mahmudullah held the lower order together

With the ball, the ageless Rangana Herath toiled away for modest gains, bowling 37 overs for his three wickets – including the crucial early scalp of Monimul – and giving up 150 runs in the process, while at the other end of the spectrum, Lakshan Sandakan, playing just his ninth Test, bowled tidily to claim two good wickets with his left-arm chinamen. True to form, Sri Lanka have unearthed another mystery spinner who does it his way; with a trio of four-fors against India, Australia and Bangladesh, allied to a single five-wicket haul against India at Pallekele, Sandakan has made an encouraging start to his international career.

In reply, Sri Lanka will have known they needed to bat long and deep, but the early loss of Dimuth Karunaratne set them back before a run had been scored. Mehedi Hasan was the bowler, inducing a loose shot by the left-hander, playing away from his body and steering an edge to Imrul Kayes at first slip. The dismissal brought Dhananjaya de Silva to the crease to join Kusal Mendis; thereafter that was as good as it got for Bangladesh.

Mendis and de Silva gave Sri Lankan fans plenty to cheer about on day two from Chittagong
Mendis and de Silva gave Sri Lankan fans plenty to cheer about on day two from Chittagong

It was a stirring stand, with potentially far-reaching consequences. The two represent the future of Sri Lankan batting. In Dhananjaya, they have a technically sound, upright accumulator, perfectly suited to the No.3 slot, who has enjoyed the Test arena so far: after 11 Tests before this one, he'd already registered hundreds against Australia, India and Zimbabwe. While at the other end, smaller in stature but more expansive of stroke, Mendis buzzed around today, intent to make up for lost time.

The nominated starlet of Sri Lankan batting – who himself has claimed he wants to be considered the best batsman in the world one day – Mendis was left out of Sri Lanka's recent tour of India following a slump in form, with the Sri Lankan management stating that they wanted to manage the load on the young man's shoulders. But his return to the Test team here has been triumphant: he will resume on day three unbeaten on 83, eyeing a fourth Test century – a feat which has already been achieved in this match by his partner. 

Where Mendis was cautious and self-contained, Dhananjaya played beautifully, striking 15 fours, as Mendis played second fiddle in an unbroken partnership of 183. Quick on his feet against the spinners and compact against the seamers, he maintained an excellent scoring rate throughout his innings, going to his half-century from 65 balls and taking just 122 balls to bring up three figures. The partnership has provided real impetus to the Sri Lankan innings and now opens the game up to all three results.

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