Sri Lanka 9 for 0 (Karunaratne 6*, Mendis 3*) and 222 lead Bangladesh 110 (Mehidy 38*, Dananjaya 3-20, Lakmal 3-25) by 121 runs
Bangladesh hurtled to a 112-run deficit on the second morning, losing five wickets for five runs, while nightwatchman Mehidy Hasan Miraz watched helpless from the other end.
Sri Lanka’s bowlers, on the other hand, were rampant. After Suranga Lakmal had taken the first wicket of the day, debutant Akila Dananjaya ransacked the lower middle order, claiming three wickets in the space of seven deliveries. As can sometimes be the case when the spinners dominate, Sri Lanka’s fielding also moved to a higher plane. Fielding at short leg, Kusal Mendis pulled off a run out of exquisite awareness and agility to dismiss Taijul Islam. After Dilruwan Perera claimed the final wicket, Sri Lanka’s openers batted out the two overs before lunch, making nine runs for no loss.
Although this track is certainly loaded heavily in favour of the bowlers, that Mehidy was by far Bangladesh’s best batsman does not reflect well on the remainder of the batting order. Where other batsmen had been too watchful or overaggressive early in their innings, Mehidy showcased a good defensive temperament, while ensuring the poor balls were almost always attacked. First over of the day, he blasted Lakmal through the covers before advancing to launch Rangana Herath into the sightscreen next over. There would be no more boundaries in his innings, but in keeping up the runs into the outfield, it was he who prodded Bangladesh past 100, while other batsmen stalled. His eventual score was 38 not out. The next-best was Liton Das, with 25.
But it was to Dananjaya that the morning belonged, and to him went perhaps the most perfect spin-bowling dismissal of the match so far. That it was his maiden Test wicket only sweetened the deal. Tossing the ball up outside off stump, Dananjaya got the ball to drift away, before it dipped and spat back at the batsman. Mahmudullah offered a forward defence, but so sharp was the turn, that the ball whistled between bat and pad, to hit the very top of middle stump. Dananjaya was ecstatic.
His remaining dismissals were also off-spin classics. Three balls after bowling Mahmudullah, he lured Sabbir Rahman into a off drive, only for the ball to turn more sharply than the batsman expected. The catch, off the inside edge, would be snapped up low to the ground by Dinesh Chandimal at midwicket. Next over, a similar dismissal: another turning delivery, another attempted drive, but this time Abdur Razzak’s mis-hit shot went straight back to Dananjaya.
Mendis’ run out then kept the collapse rolling. Taijul Islam overbalanced and stepped out of his crease, as he the ball to short leg. In a flash Mendis collected and threw down the stumps, while Taijul’s bat was still in the air. The batsman could not have been out of his crease for longer than two or three seconds, and yet, though he had hit the ball, lost his wicket.
Bangladesh raised lbw shouts against the Sri Lanka batsmen in the two second-innings overs before lunch, but the batsmen survived.