International Cricket

Ban vs SL – 2nd Test – Kamindu Mendis expects spin to play a bigger role from day three

The Chattogram Test has progressed at a slow pace so far, with only 11 wickets falling over the first two days, and both Bangladesh and Sri Lanka believe the third day will be pivotal. The home side hope to bat out the entire day; the visitors want early wickets.

Sri Lanka are 476 runs ahead after posting a total of 531. Bangladesh lost one wicket in the 15 overs they had to negotiate on the second evening, but there was enough evidence that it will continue to be a hard grind for the bowlers. Kamindu Mendis, one of six Sri Lanka batters to score half-centuries, said his team would push to take a couple of early wickets on the third morning to continue dominating the Chattogram Test.

“The pitch, compared to the last game, is quite good for the batters,” Kamindu said. “But I think it’ll become more advantageous for the spinners going forward. I think I got to bat on a good day in that sense. Some balls did turn today, but I think tomorrow the spinners will play a bigger role. At the same time we have three very good fast bowlers – one wicket was already taken by them – so I think the combination is good. If we can pick up two-three wickets in the morning we’ll be on top.”

Bangladesh’s batting coach David Hemp said the home team would have to bat out the third day to stay in contention in this game.

“We are still thinking about winning the game,” Hemp said. “It might seem a bit bizarre considering we are [476] runs behind. The key bit will be to negotiate tomorrow. If we do that well, then we negotiate the day after. If we do that, from a batting point of view, you never know what can happen. First things first, we have to make sure we bat well for three sessions tomorrow.”

Bangladesh can take a leaf out of Sri Lanka’s approach. The visitors strung together five 50-plus stands, two of them going past the century mark. Kamindu added 65 for the seventh wicket with Prabath Jayasuriya, and then batted out an additional 17.1 overs alongside Vishwa Fernando, Lahiru Kumara and Asitha Fernando, the last three batters.

Kamindu has batted commendably with the tail through this Test series. After his 173-run seventh wicket stand with Dhananjaya de Silva in the second innings in Sylhet, Mendis batted for another 26.2 overs with the last three batters.

“When you bat at No 7 or 8, you have to trust the tail-enders,” Kamindu said. “I think I did that. They did a good job supporting me. Our top-order batters did really well in this innings. We have a few half-centuries. They gave a good contribution to the team.

“I think in cricket, someone can get a big hundred, someone won’t be able to. We have six half-centuries in our first innings. It is still a good contribution for the team. We put a 500-plus total on to the board. I think we fulfilled our plan.”

Dinesh Chandimal and captain de Silva also struck fifties as Sri Lanka looked hardly in trouble through the second day. Bangladesh also dropped four catches, to take their total to seven across Sri Lanka’s innings.

The catching reached its nadir when Jayasuriya edged Khaled Ahmed to Najmul Hossain Shanto at first slip. The ball burst out of his hand, only to reach Shahadat Hossain at second slip, who parried it to Zakir Hossain at third slip, who finally dropped the chance. Khaled was left fuming, kicking the turf twice.

“I thought [Shahadat] Dipu had the best chance to get that [catch],” Hemp said. “Both those fielders field at short leg so their reactions are pretty good. I thought when it popped out, one of them would be able to get it. But unfortunately not. We don’t see that often.

“It is a difficult job to be a slip fielder. A lot of it is anticipation and expectation. You have to expect the ball to come to you every ball. Unless you’ve got that mindset, it makes life a bit difficult. The more you will practice, you give yourself a better chance when it comes in a game situation.”

Catching is one of many concerns for Bangladesh. The main one will be their batting line-up, which is coming off four failures on the trot. Zakir and Joy began positively before the latter fell to Lahiru Kumara’s dipping inswinger late in the day. The opening pair hasn’t put on a single half-century partnership yet, having batted together nine times so far.

Hemp said Bangladesh believe in the pair, who have shown signs of improvement. “We didn’t negotiate [Sri Lanka’s bowlers] well enough [in Sylhet] last week. I think that’s the big move forward. It is what we practiced in the three days [before this Test]. Joy’s dismissal was disappointing. It would have been nice to be none down at the end of the day. They are a young partnership, so it takes a bit of time to get into it. I am just pleased with the way they applied themselves.”

Mohammad Isam is ESPNcricinfo’s Bangladesh correspondent. @isam84

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