Poor fielding let Bangladesh dominate

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2017-03-19

The second Test match - which happens to be the 100th Test for Bangladesh - is beautifully poised with both teams (depending on how they progress) having a good chance of winning it. At the time of writing the Bangladeshi's couldn't be blamed if they felt that they were the ones in front, though it's their batsmen that will have to shoulder the responsibility if the result turns out to be anything different. There were two crucial points in the Bangladesh innings that the Tigers will want to forget or regret if the Lankans win the second Test or manage to draw it. The first was the last half an hour on day two where the visitors went from a comfortable 194 for two to five down for less than two hundred.

It could have been much worse had the Lankans fielding been sharper and especially Upul Tharanga who misjudged the catch of Shakib at square leg. There were two chances for the Lankans. First was the missed opportunity by Tharanga and then when Lakmal came on for the second last over of the day the script was written perfectly where Shakib was not going to hold back if the invitation of a bouncer was there.

The second moment also involved Shakib just before tea on day three when he had got his hundred and looked good for a bigger one and a bigger lead for the visitors when he miscued Sandakan to Chandimal at mid-on.

As for the Sri Lankans they did the right thing by winning the toss on a very dry surface and couldn't have done anything different than bat first. The questions is did they make full use of the surface on day one day two? They didn't sadly and had it not been for Chandimal it would have been an embarrassment for the hosts. The innings played by Chandimal was simply a very mature one. I wasn't surprised when he indicated that it was his best test hundred as he was really made to work for the runs.

What the Lankans wanted was to use the conditions and the full day two which is generally very good for batting. The three hundred and thirty eight would have been competitive had the half chances been taken by Sri Lanka. Sadly that wasn't the case with half chances and some-time genuine chances missed both in the form of catches and run outs which obviously hurt them in the way of a first innings lead of one hundred twenty nine runs.

Sri Lanka on the other hand will want to be cautious without trying to be too aggressive though the pitch at the Sara Oval can start to assist spin and day four and five are bound to be crucial on that score. Hence, my point earlier in this column that the Lankans too have an outside chance of winning this game provided a lead of a round two hundred could be got on day five and pressure applied through the spinners on a pitch that is bound to deteriorate further. However, it is first things first for Sri Lanka and that is to get through day four and also wipe off the lead. It's a thin line for the hosts as they need to decide between attack and defence as if they are to win they need runs on the board and time to have a go at the Bangladesh batsmen. My hunch is it will be a very tense finish on Sunday. Let's see.

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