The tough gets going
There was no difference in Sri Lanka’s performance or approach to the second test match against Bangladesh, from the first. They were committed and very professional, as they brushed aside the visitors for the second time -- and on this occasion under three days. The Sri Lankans did not give the Bangladeshis any opportunity to raise their heads.
|The Bangladesh batsmen should make it a point to learn some skills on application from Sangakkara’s double ton. (Picture by Saman Kariyawasam)
It was evident from day one that Mahela Jayawardena and the team intended to keep the lid shut on their opponents. They believed in making the most of the early life on the pitch and invited Bangladesh to bat first. The decision was justified a hundred percent.
What a strange sight it was to see nine wickets tumble in the first session of day one in a test match. On quick pitches or seaming pitches there is the possibility of witnessing batsmen struggling for survival. Here, it was a matter of application and having a basically sound technique, to get through that session.
In addition to this shortcoming, they lack a couple of mature, experienced players who can battle through tough situations and come good. When a team is dismissed two deliveries after the lunch break for a paltry score on the first day of a five day test match, then they are out of the contest. All they can do from there on is to bide time and delay the inevitable.
The pitch through day one had the batsmen working hard. Centurion of the previous game, Michael Van Dort paid the penalty of leaving a gap between bat and pad and just a minimum amount of in-swing found the ball rattling the stumps. That was the only success that Bangladesh tasted for the day.
Both Malinda Warnapura and Kumar Sangakkara had to dig deep to produce a long test innings. It was nothing new for Sangakkara, but for Warnapura it was. He did well on the day, but could not go on the next day. He wouldn’t get the ball to hit the middle of the bat during the thirty five minutes stay on day two and finally threw it away. It is the experience that will matter to go on to achieve bigger deeds from here on.
Kumar Sangakkara was a picture of determination. He always looks determined when he strides out to the middle, be it to bat, keep or field. On this day it was a fierce determination to succeed as he had missed out in the earlier test match. Day one was spent establishing himself, being watchful, not taking risks. In the end he had reached a half century. Like Warnapura, he too looked uneasy at the start of day two. He hung in there and as the sun got on his back, the strokes began to unfurl. Then the determination continued – to achieve a landmark – a double century. Sri Lanka declared their innings closed when he got there. The fifth time he had done so and the team’s lead was 389 runs.
Had there been any doubts about Chaminda Vaas’ ability to dismiss batsman in tests, based on recent performances, then he laid that to rest in this game. The previous seven tests had yielded only fourteen wickets and by his standards, inadequate. In the first innings he bowled five overs and gave away five runs and had no more to do. In the second innings he provided the breakthrough, got two wickets at the beginning, bowled steady, probing spells in the middle, then picked two more wickets with the second new ball. With that he proved that he has not lost the skills or the cunning which has made him so successful.
Both in the first test and in this one Dilhara Fernando was very impressive. The pitches were not difficult for batsmen and it was hard work for the big paceman. In all he bowled twenty two overs in the game and picked up five wickets. More than the figures, the variations worked well. The bouncer, the yorker, the slower delivery and a new found out swinger were tried, tested and produced results. He was menacing with the old ball too. He must carry this form into the next series in Australia.
The third test is in Kandy. Sri Lanka has clinched the series and it would be an opportunity to give some of the bench players an opportunity. They still must want to win the match. Changing three players, two bowlers and a batsman will still keep them on course to achieve that. For now, the second test was a thorough performance by the Sri Lankans.