Sri Lanka’s loss to Bangladesh that handed them a historic centenary Test triumph that had eluded the minnows would certainly kindle many regrets from the second Test match at the P. Saravanamuththu Stadium. For a match that saw Sri Lanka ride back from a first day early disaster to a point of dominating Bangladesh on Dinesh Chandimal’s laborious century, it must give the side a definite bad feeling; a bad feeling that the Sri Lankan fielders primarily contributed to that downfall by letting Bangladesh off the hook when the host team was in total control on the third day. The three lives to centurion Shakib Al Hasan, first a dolly catch put down by Upul Tharanga when he was on 11, the next let off by Dinesh Chandimal when Hasan was on 40, a folly that was to ultimately deny Chandimal the rewards of his fighting century. The other lapse was a missed stumping by Niroshan Dickwella in the 60s was the initial turning point of Sri Lanka throwing the solid initiative. An awakening lesson from this defeat that must ring a bell from the famous cricketing slogan that catches win matches. This slogan has proved to be a cornerstone fine tuning factor in the past where Sri Lanka had an envious slate in the fielding department during the island nation’s successful campaign to winning Test status. The talent always boasted of excellent catchers with reflexes. History has it of brilliant fielding being the swaying factor in dramatic finishes, and this defeat must be an eye opener to the Sri Lankan camp as to how sacred a tip top fielding department is to a winning formula.
The other contributory factor to this defeat was the shaky middle order that sparked a second innings collapse from a secure 1 for 57 and 2 for 143 on the back of the top three batsmen. The cheap dismissals of Chandimal (05), Gunaratne (07), De Silva (00) and Dickwella (05) that plummeted Sri Lanka to 190 for 6 was agonizing as the ton up Dimuth Karunaratne watched helplessly from the other end. Sri Lanka still had a match salvaging opportunity in the 9th wicket alliance of Dilruwan Perera and Suranga Lakmal who held Bangladesh at bay, but for the needless run out of Perera who was central to saving the match. The partnership was going strong on 80 when the unwanted happened. The name of the game in that dark hour was batting out time, and not a risky run and why the two batsmen got a rush of blood is a lesson to learn from.
From a Bangladesh point of view, the nation’s centenary Test match brought its Test cricket the fitting finish that was the rewards for a band of cricketers who have gone through the mill. It was a culmination of sweat, blood and tears in a long struggle of going past a barrier that had denied them in the past; the ultimate euphoria of a maiden Test success that skipper Mushfiqur Rahman and his colleagues had earned from braving the odds and coming on top in a see sawing game. If the Man of the Match award to opening batsman Tamim Iqbal for his cornerstone 82 in putting Bangladesh within sight of victory was a fitting reward, and as much the Player of the Series award for his first innings ton for Shakib Al Hasan, the Bangladesh bowlers and fielders did live up to it to swing the match in their favour. For the Sri Lankan born coach Chandika Hathurusinghe, it was a high point in his coaching career.
By Srian Obeyesekere
-The opinions expressed here are the views of the writer and do not necessarily reflect the views and opinions of Sri Lanka Cricket-