PALLEKELE, Sri Lanka (AP) — Sri Lanka’s inexperienced spin duo of Praveen Jayawickrama and Ramesh Mendis took all five Bangladesh wickets to fall in the tourists’ second innings on day four of the second test on Sunday.
At stumps, Bangladesh slumped to 177-5 chasing a stiff 437 to win as Sri Lanka closed in on a memorable win.
The hosts need five wickets on the final day to wrap up the game and the series after the first test ended in a draw.
In its first innings, Bangladesh was cruising at 214-3 in response to Sri Lanka’s 493-7 declared before collapsing to all out for 251 and a first-innings deficit of 242. Sri Lanka then extended its lead, adding 194-9 before declaring for a second time.
Jayawickrama and Mendis had accounted for eight wickets in the first innings and they were a handful again in the second with Mendis finishing with figures of 3-86 and Jayawickrama returning 2-58.
Jayawickrama was a last-minute call-up to the test squad due to injuries and bowled exceptionally well with a clever change of angles and flight that kept Bangladesh batsmen on edge throughout.
In the first innings, Jayawickrama picked up 6-92, the best figures by a Sri Lankan on debut. He should have claimed the best figures in a match by a Sri Lankan debutant as well but Mushfiqur Rahim was dropped by Lahiru Thirimanne at slip. He now has eight wickets for 150 runs in the game and only Akila Dananjaya had fared better on debut having claimed 8-44 against Bangladesh in Dhaka in 2018.
Amid few bright spots for the tourists, Mushfiqur went on to top score with his 40 runs from 63 deliveries that included five boundaries.
Mendis, meanwhile, who is playing in his second test, wasn’t as accurate but managed to get extra bounce that also troubled the batsmen.
The spinner, who has claimed five wickets in the game so far, was hopeful Sri Lanka will be able to make early inroads on day five.
“There’s a lot of assistance for the spinners on this wicket. We did the right things for a long time and we need to continue that. There will be bit of pressure on us as we have exhausted all our reviews but then we need only five wickets and we need to keep doing the right things.”
The two spinners have accounted for 13 of the 15 Bangladeshi wickets and Mendis was pleased to have built a partnership with Jayawickramag.
“Praveen bowled so well. We play for the same team in first class cricket... so, anyway, there is a bowling partnership there," Mendis added. "He bowls and puts pressure from one end, and I was doing the same. If we get one more wicket, we’re into the bowlers, so I think we’ll be able to get them out quickly.”
Bangladesh batsman Najmul Shanto remained hopeful his side can hold off the Sri Lanka attack.
“I think our first plan is to bat out the first two hours, and then we can think ahead,” he said.
Sri Lanka haven’t won a test since January 2020, a span that covers eight test matches.
Play was called off 30 minutes early due to bad light with 12 overs lost on the day. It will resume 15 minutes early on Monday.
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