If Sri Lanka win the second Test, which will surely end before the fifth day given the fall of 14 wickets on the first day yesterday, opener Kusal Mendis's aggressive 68 while his colleagues were being hounded by Bangladesh's spinners, may be looked upon as the pivotal hand.
As Sri Lanka's current and Bangladesh's former batting coach Thilan Samaraweera said after the end of the day, it was a typical Mirpur wicket which took turn but was not unplayable, at least on the first day. Mendis, who hit a sedate 196 in the first Test played on a featherbed Chittagong wicket, took the opposite approach yesterday and hit 10 boundaries and a six in a 98-ball innings that was the major contributor to Sri Lanka's 222 all out.
Having fought back to even terms, if not the ascendancy, by taking four Bangladesh wickets for just 56 runs, Samaraweera identified Mendis's innings as the difference-maker.
“The biggest thing is Kusal Mendis's 60 ,” said Samaraweera in the post-day press conference. “That 60 came very quickly, it was a massive part of the batting because on this pitch it is not easy to score fast, but he batted on a different track in the morning. We [also] have to give credit to the tailenders and Roshen Silva [for rescuing them from 110 for six], they batted well.”
Samaraweera, however, insisted that the game was still in the balance. “I think the game is still balanced because we have to take another six wickets, we have to bat another innings and we have to bowl them out in another innings. For me, I think we were 30 runs short.
“Mirpur [for Bangladesh] is like Galle for Sri Lanka. Bangladesh dominate in Mirpur. It is very hard to say which team is the favourite, but whatever we do we have to do well tomorrow. First two hours are crucial.”
When asked whether this pitch was unplayable, Samaraweera disagreed. “No, I think this is the Dhaka pitch. [Against] England, Australia [during his time with Bangladesh] we played on the same pitches. You can't say it's unplayable. But from Chittagong to here... two different extremes. Test cricket is dying these days, and you have to produce result pitches. I think I am happier with this than the Chittagong one.”