Bangladesh stumble at the startAzad Majumder
The habit of chasing every ball – a common weakness against short-pitched deliveries – and some poor luck combined to bring about Bangladesh’s downfall as they were dismissed for a modest 232 runs in the first innings of the first Test against Sri Lanka in Dhaka on Monday.
Sri Lanka took a firm grip on the match, reaching 60-0 at close on the opening day and needing just 173 runs to go ahead in the first innings, which looks inevitable with the pitch showing no real demons.
The Tigers dropped a batsman to add an additional pace bowler for the match, hoping to cash in on early morning moisture, but luck did not smile their way; Mushfiqur Rahim lost the crucial toss and his Tigers were sent in to bat.
Openers Tamim Iqbal and Shamsur Rahman remained together for nine overs, indicating that things may not be as bad as feared, before everything changed in a short span of time. Three wickets fell in as many overs to turn the scoreboard from 35-0 to 40-3, suddenly giving Sri Lanka the upper hand.
It all started with Tamim, who could not take advantage of his good fortune after having survived a dropped chance on six. Kaushal Silva had grassed a simple catch opportunity at short leg off Shaminda Eranga, but the left-hander did not have to wait too long before finally providing Sri Lanka’s first breakthrough.
Eranga returned for his next over with clear plan and Tamim fell into the trap. Unable to resist the temptation to play hook shot on a short-ball, Tamim went after one but only managed a bottom edge. Suranga Lakmal took the catch at the fine leg boundary, smartly stopping his feet from touching the rope.
One-down Marshall Ayub saw a 50-50 decision go against him before Eranga delivered another blow, this time forcing a catch from debutant Shamsur, who, despite his inexperience, had looked confident.
Shamsur’s dismissal for 33 was greeted with mixed reactions as Sakib al Hasan entered the ground amid huge applause from fans, who defied the winter chill to be in the gallery to cheer on the Tigers.
Sakib joined Mominul Haque, who came into this match with two centuries in his previous two Test matches. The need of the hour was for Mominul to dig deep and to try for another one, but he failed this time.
Another short-ball from Eranga popped up suddenly and forced Mominul to play an on-drive that he could not keep on the ground. Kithuruwan Vithanage took his second catch of the morning, diving forward to leave Bangladesh struggling at 59-4.
The best part of the Bangladesh innings came when Mushfiq and Sakib batted together, mixing their aggression with caution to defy the Sri Lankan attack. Just when it seemed Bangladesh had recovered from the initial damage, Rangana Herath made his presence felt by breaking their precious 86-run fifth-wicket stand.
Sakib went down early for a sweep shot and was struck plumb lbw for 55. There was no issue with the decision against Sakib, but what followed was heartbreaking for the home fans. Nasir Hossain was given caught behind in the next over to rising delivery that apparently missed the bat.
Sakib later said in the press conference that the ball only hit Nasir’s arm. It was, however, not to be the only bad decision for the Tigers. Mushfiq was their most solid batsman on the day, showing no sign of panic, but he too fell to an erroneous decision.
The skipper was given lbw on 61, with replays suggesting an inside edge. A trigger-happy Sohag Gazi could survive just one more over before the Eranga-Lakmal combination ended his innings at 42. The tail had little to add in these testing conditions, meaning Bangladesh had to be satisfied with a total that was well below their expectations.
Stumps, Day 1
Bangladesh 1st innings 232 in 63.5 overs (Mushfiq 61, Sakib 55, Sohag 42, Shamsur 33; Eranga 4-49, Lakmal 3-62, Herath 2-50) v Sri Lanka 1st innings 60-0 in 19 overs (K Silva 30 not out, D Karunaratne 28 not out).
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