Despite a fightback from the Bangladesh bowlers, who picked up five wickets in the final session on the second day, Sri Lanka got into a position of great strength in the second and final Test on the back of a disciplined bowling performance followed by a Roshen Silva half-century.
At close of play on Friday, Silva, who had scored 56 in the first innings, was unbeaten on 58 – his third half-century in the format to go with a century in only his third Test – with Suranga Lakmal on seven. Sri Lanka had reached 200/8 in their second innings, stretching their overall lead to 312.
Earlier, Bangladesh lost their last five wickets for just three runs in a span of 20 balls. Akila Dananjaya, the Test debutant, made the best use of the turning track to return figures of 3/20 to help Sri Lanka shoot Bangladesh out for 110 to gain a first-innings lead of 112 runs at the Sher-e-Bangla National Stadium in Dhaka.
Bangladesh started off on shaky footing at 56/4 and despite a couple of small pockets when it looked like they would bat their way out of trouble, they largely remained under the cosh.
Resuming with Liton Das on 24 and Mehedi Hasan on five, Bangladesh got to 73 before Das fell hanging his bat outside the off stump to a harmless-looking delivery from Lakmal (3/25) and dragging it on to his stumps.
Hasan had done most of the scoring till then, crunching a boundary through the covers off Lakmal in the first over of the day and then stepping out to drive Rangana Herath for a straight six soon after. Das, meanwhile, added just a run before becoming the first man to fall on the day, becoming Lakmal’s third and final victim.
Then came a good phase for Bangladesh, as Hasan was solid and Mahmudullah, leading the side in Shakib Al Hasan’s absence, looked enterprising. Rangana Herath, however, was turning the ball square by then, and Akila Dananjaya, the debutant who replaced Lakmal, also seemed threatening.
Survival was the key for the two batsmen, and though they added 34 for the sixth wicket with sensible running and only the occasional risk – Mahmudullah brought up his team’s 100 with a reverse-sweep just beyond slip’s reach for four – Sri Lanka were back in it when Dananjaya sent back Mahmudullah. It was the classic off-spinner’s wicket, as Dananjaya had Mahmudullah stretching forward to one drifting away, and then got sharp turn to go through the defences and hit off stump. Mahmudullah had scored 17, and his wicket left Bangladesh at 107/6.
Hasan got precious little strike from there on and ended unbeaten on a 78-ball 38, with two fours and a six, watching on as it took just over three overs for the innings to wind up when Dilruwan Perera (2/32) trapped Mustafizur Rahman lbw.
Starting their second innings just before the lunch interval, Sri Lanka lost Kusal Mendis to Abdur Razzak, who had picked up four wickets in the first innings, for seven when a flighted delivery went on with the arm and caught the batsman palpably in front. Not only was Mendis out, he wasted a review for his team in the process too.
Dimuth Karunaratne and Dhananjaya de Silva then crafted a 34-run partnership for the second wicket, the former circumspect and the latter enterprising, helping Sri Lanka get past the 50-run mark after 15 overs. De Silva raced to 28 runs off just 24 deliveries, with five fours, before Taijul Islam hit his stumps from wide around the wicket, getting the ball to straighten and beating the batsman’s attempted late cut.
Next, it was Mustafizur’s turn to strike as he trapped Danushka Gunathilaka lbw with an incoming delivery for 17 just before tea after yet another small but crucial partnership of 27 runs.
Bangladesh got another breakthrough at the start of the third session in the form of Karunaratne, the opener, who had held the innings together till then. He scored 32 off 105 deliveries before being caught smartly by a diving Imrul Kayes at mid-wicket off Hasan.
Dinesh Chandimal and Silva then added 51 runs for the fifth wicket, taking the lead past the 250 mark in the process. Mustafizur could have seen the back of Chandimal any number of times, but while his off-cutters had the Sri Lanka captain in all kinds of trouble, and even pinged him in the gloves once, the edges just refused to go to hand.
Hasan, however, struck in the final session when Chandimal fell lbw for 30 with the ball keeping low and going under an attempted pull, and Taijul Islam then got the wicket of a very aggressive Niroshan Dickwella, who gave a lot of chances, survived, but couldn’t capitalise. Right before the end of the day’s play, Mustafizur got the crowd on its feet again when he had two in two – Perera and Dananjaya – but the day ended well in favour of the visiting side.