A 196-run stand for the 4th wicket between centurion Kusal Mendis and Asela Gunaratne helped Sri Lanka amass 321/4 on Day 1 of the first test against Bangladesh in Galle. While Mendis struck a splendid unbeaten 166, Gunaratne contributed 85.
Bangladesh draw first blood early on
Though Sri Lanka won the toss and opted to bat, it was the visitors who enjoyed the early spell of dominance. After a couple of nervous moments, the Sri Lankan openers seemed to find their rhythm. However, first-change quick Subhashis Roy got better of Upul Tharanga in the sixth over of the innings.
A typical right-arm pacer’s delivery which darted back a little after pitching on the middle stump found a huge gap in Tharanga’s defence. The southpaw was castled for 4 as Sri Lanka lost their first wicket with just 15 runs on board.
The Tigers’ joy seemed to multiply as No.3 batsman Kusal Mendis was caught behind for a first-ball duck in Roy’s same over. However, it was short-lived as replays showed Roy had overstepped, giving Mendis a crucial life.
Mendis and the other opener Dimuth Karunaratne continued to keep the scoreboard ticking as the overs rolled on. But the latter's good work was done in the penultimate over before lunch when Karunaratne played on Mehedi Hasan’s harmless delivery on to the stumps for 30. At lunch, Sri Lanka reached 61/2 in 24 overs.
— Bangladesh Cricket (@BCBtigers) March 7, 2017
Sri Lanka loses Chandimal cheaply but recover well
Runs dried up in the first hour of the post lunch session with only 14 runs added in 11 overs. Barring a few loose balls, the Bangladesh bowlers were sticking to a tight line and length. Mendis tried to break the shackles with three boundaries in as many overs as Sri Lanka neared 100.
Just when it seemed the hosts were able to acquire momentum, they lost their third wicket. Bangladesh’s ace Mustafizur Rahman ended Dinesh Chandimal’s agonizing stay at the crease which yielded a meager 5 runs from 52 balls. Sri Lanka was in a spot of bother with the scoreboard reading 96/3 after 40 overs.
Asela Gunaratne was the next batsman in, whose arrival upped the scoring rate to a certain extent. While Mendis, who by now completed his half-century, looked out for more boundaries, Gunaratne was happy to concentrate on singles. Without taking any undue risks, the duo ensured Sri Lanka went to tea at 155/3.
— ICC (@ICC) March 7, 2017
Mendis-Gunaratne conjure a big partnership
Bangladesh’s wait for a wicket prolonged in the final session of the day, as the Sri Lankan duo took advantage of some mediocre bowling to churn out runs. The host batsmen did not seem too troubled against the likes of Shakib, Mehedi and Mustafizur. With Sri Lanka closing on the 200-run mark, both the batsmen were nearing their respective century and fifty milestones.
Making the most of his life, Mendis was the first to get it with an elegant drive for four, bringing up his second test ton. Two overs later, Gunaratne too reached fifty with a boundary, leaving the visitor bowlers in desperate search of a wicket.
Both the batsmen feasted on a tiresome bowling attack, bringing out all the shots in their repertoire. After going wicketless for 42 overs, Bangladesh earned the fourth wicket in the form of Gunaratne. The 31-year old playing his third test, missed out on his second test century, falling for 85 in the 83rd over of the day. That was the final moment of joy for the Bangladesh team in the day as the Mendis and Niroshan Dickwella played out the remaining overs of the day safely. Mendis remained unconquered on 166 while Dickwella will resume Day 2 on 14.
Sri Lanka 321/4 in 88 overs (Kusal Mendis 166*, Asela Gunaratne 85, Taskin Ahmed 1/48, Mustafizur Rahman 1/50)