“The transformation is back on track and Sri Lanka have an able guiding light on Chandika Hathurusingha, the contribution of whom Bangladesh failed to acknowledge or appreciate”.
Five years ago, any contest between these two teams would have been dubbed a one-sided affair. But Bangladesh have improved by leaps and bounds and have beat the likes of England and Australia at home recently that their confidence, at least at home, skyrockets.
Beating Sri Lanka was quintessential for this Bangladesh side, particularly since the visitors had acquired their coach and also because they had been terrible in recent times with their transformation after the retirements of some stalwart cricketers still in progress.
Sri Lanka, on the other hand, had all odds stacked against them. They had to contend with a confident Bangladesh on their own turf where their slower bowlers mercilessly pound batsmen with accurate lines. Lanka were missing Angelo Mathews, the mainstay in their middle-order and their most experienced batsman, owing to injury.
Mathews was more than a pillar in this Lankan line-up. He was the glue that held the batting line-up together from falling apart. Rigours of International cricket were taking its toll on a depleted Sri Lankan side after Kumar Sangakkara and Mahela Jayawardena, two of their biggest names, stepped aside. Missing Mathews wasn’t ideal for the Island Nation as they looked to conquer Bangladesh if anything a solace to their woes in Test cricket in 2017.
Fight back at Chittagong
They started terribly on a barren road at Chittagong, conceding 513 to Bangladesh with their spinners, Rangana Herath and Dilruwan Perera, going at more than four an over.
They had been pegged back on day 1 of the Test series and Sri Lanka had to call upon their inner fight and composure to overcome this hurdle. That Kusal Mendis had to open due to lack of good partners for Dimuth Karunaratne was another of Lanka’s woes.
But by the end of 199.3 overs, Sri Lanka had compiled a mammoth 713, a 200 run lead over the hosts and had three centurions in Kusal Mendis, Dhananjaya de Silva and Roshen Silva. Most of their batsmen had stuck it out and reaped benefits on a placid surface.
Little did Bangladesh realise that they had played into Lanka’s hands by meting out a dead surface. The hosts managed to draw the Test match but they had instilled in most Sri Lankan batsmen the belief that they could make runs if they backed their techniques and grit it out in the middle.
At Dhaka, Bangladesh gifted a typical turning track, essentially lifting Rangana Herath to do what he does best with the ball – turn it a mile. All the visitors needed was to put some runs on the board. They made 222 courtesy brilliant knocks from Kusal Mendis and Roshen Silva and then dismantled Bangladesh for 110 without Herath even coming to the party.
Roshen Silva established his desire to don the sheet anchor role with another well-compiled half-century in the second innings and set Bangladesh a near impossible 339 for victory. The hosts managed to make just 123 as Herath and Akila Dananjaya scythed through them like in a bowl-out.
The immense passion and enthusiasm in Sri Lanka’s celebration post the win showed how much it meant to them. They had been threaded left, right and centre in 2017 and despite beating Pakistan 2-0 at UAE and drawing two games in India, they had been humbled quite a few times.
A fitting reply to the critics
This victory meant everything to Sri Lanka who were searching for an impetus to resume their metamorphosis.
“Not only this [series win], even when we played in Dubai we won 2-0 against Pakistan,” Herath had said. “We had a bad series in India. So I feel we have started another journey with the Test team. Hopefully, we can continue with that. When Sanga and Mahela left the team, it was a lot of runs [that left as well]. Now, for the last three years later we are rebuilding the side. Now I can see the proper team with youth and experience, especially Roshen [Silva] and [Akila] Dananjaya and Kusal Mendis.”
They had played out injury, a poor start, some terrible trolls on their coach, Chandika Hathurusingha, from the illogical Bangladesh media, and injury to one of their most prominent players to emerge victorious.
Theirs was a team effort. Kusal Mendis, Roshen Silva and Dhananjaya de Silva revealed that Sri Lanka’s batting depth isn’t as shallow as the cricketing fraternity thinks it to be and their bowlers stood up in the face of adversity and fought tooth and nail to churn out a win. This young brigade deserves the limelight. They have been ridiculed, taunted, mocked and guffawed at enough. The transformation is back on track and Sri Lanka have an able guiding light on Chandika Hathurusingha, the contribution of whom Bangladesh failed to acknowledge or appreciate.