Bangladesh v Sri Lanka, 1st Test, Mirpur, 4th day January 30, 2014

Sri Lanka thrive as a collective

Many past Sri Lankan victories have been because of one or two great cricketers shining, but this had strong performances from virtually everyone in the side

Fernando: SL used the short ball well

As cricket fans outside the two competing nations wind down after the boardroom histrionics at the ICC meeting in Dubai, they might note with an eyeroll and a harrumph that Sri Lanka have handed Bangladesh an almighty clobbering in Mirpur. For all their cash and covert planning, the Big Three boards still could not pull off the most one-sided showdown in cricket this week. The only way they might have matched Sri Lanka's bullying in this innings-and-248-run result, is if they had secretly put whoopee cushions under the seats of the Small Seven directors.

Like any bully, Sri Lanka will be mighty pleased at their work. Angelo Mathews said he did not know what his team would do with the extra day they have earned, but if the warm-down football game they played after the match is any indication, they will spend it in good spirits.

The scoreline appears impressive, but given the paucity of the resistance their opponents offered, Sri Lanka will be wary of over-congratulating themselves. For the batsmen, 730 for 6 is a once-in-a-career total. The bowlers will probably not expect a scoring rate of 4.82 from a team effectively batting to save the Test, in future.

But the victory did show something of the new Sri Lanka that is beginning to emerge - a team that thrives as a collective, not just as hangers-on to a great cricketer's coattails. This trend is most evident in the bowling, where one man has dominated their history, with help from one capable other.

Sri Lanka's bowling cards from around 1995 to 2010 feature protagonists Muttiah Muralitharan, Chaminda Vaas and a conveyor belt of also-bowleds. The likes of Pramodya Wickramasinghe, Ravindra Pushpakumara and Kumar Dharmasena plugged gaps in the XI in the 90s, before giving way to the likes of Dilhara Fernando, Upul Chandana and Farveez Maharoof in the most recent decade. Many of these bowlers are now more remembered for their quirks, than their exploits. Pushpakumara was a baby Waqar Younis, Dharmasena had a killer appeal, Fernando bowled a lot of no-balls, many while emitting a loud grunt. Rarely was it unclear who Sri Lanka's real pivots were.

That trend persisted even after Murali hung up his bent elbow. Before this year Rangana Herath had been the architect, or at least a prominent co-star, in each of Sri Lanka's triumphs since Murali. In the last series Sri Lanka played against Bangladesh last March - when, incidentally, the opposition had shown considerably more spirit and application than in this performance - Herath's 12 wickets had formed the major gulf between the sides.

But in Mirpur, Sri Lanka's quicks not only preserved the discipline they had found in the UAE series, they struck out with more ambition and discovered their armoury had expanded. Even Vaas in his pomp rarely bounced out oppositions, but blessed with height and pace that their bowling coach never had, Shaminda Eranga and Suranga Lakmal battered the Bangladesh top order, twice. There is no doubt the batsmen were generous with their wickets, but this was the first occasion a short-ball plan had been formulated by this attack, and their emphatic execution says much about their confidence. Eranga's brute to dismiss Shamsur Rahman on day four might have had the better of any batsman.

"Our bowlers have improved quite a lot in the last few games," Mathews said. "They've been bowling brilliantly. The fast bowlers were in really good rhythm, and they set it up for us in the first innings. They are delivering with the new ball and with the oldish ball, so I'm very happy with them at the moment."

Dilruwan Perera extracted bite and bounce from the day-four surface to finish with a maiden five-wicket haul in his second match, suggesting he can bring balance to the attack, just as he had lengthened Sri Lanka's batting in their previous Test. Suddenly, in this win and the last one in Dubai, Herath finds himself providing support as the others go hunting for scalps.

"I haven't been in a team where we had all four bowlers equally good," Mathews said. "I'm really pleased with the way Dilruwan bowled in the second innings because we had to give him that exposure. We knew he was going to deliver. We needed that extra spinner who supports Rangana, and he did the job today."

Even beyond the bowling, Sri Lanka are discovering a chorus of players clamouring to be part of its future. Mathews and the senior players have fostered an environment where humour and good vibes abound. Two weeks ago Kaushal Silva was the protagonist in a challenge against physio Steve Mount, which culminated in a bellyful of laughs for the team and the support staff at the Sharjah nets. Not many international teams have such a keen sense of fun embedded in their identity. It's no wonder then, that valuable contributions have come from almost every spot in the XI, in this match. Happy, and improving, Sri Lanka appear to be forming new dimensions to their cricket.

Andrew Fidel Fernando is ESPNcricinfo's Sri Lanka correspondent. He tweets here

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • Dummy4 on January 31, 2014, 15:49 GMT

    speaking of farveez maharoof, why isn't he in the team? he has scored prolifically in the ongoing first-class competion in SL, and he bowled well in the recently concluded list a tournament. i think he deserves another shot at the international level, just as tharanga and kapugedara do. and it's about time they brought back tharindu kaushal and akila dananjaya...

  • Uwe on January 31, 2014, 15:27 GMT

    Heartning to see SL played well and showed Banglas how to play test cricket. Hope this form & attitude displayed during England tour where opposition is much tougher. With that in mind Nuwan Pradeep should be given some matches to keep in the game. Apropos Big 3 sham._: India is forwarding a new request. Team India should allow to place 11 batsmen when batting and 10 bowlers when fielding. At least out of India.

  • Dummy4 on January 31, 2014, 13:10 GMT

    Well Played Sri Lanka! Wonderful to see youngsters coming through while most of the senior players playing their part. However it should be noted that it is very important to maintain consistancy in performance and climb up the ranking in both test and ODI's without leaving this a once in a while good perfomance. All the best.

  • ceylon on January 31, 2014, 9:06 GMT

    Well done Sri Lanka..continue the good work forward, never under rate bangladeshish or any team in any occasion in a any format & should give chance to the Ajantha Mendis instead of Rangana Herath in the next match.

  • kanchane on January 31, 2014, 6:17 GMT

    very good article and this is an eye opener to the selecting committee too i guess, hats off to the team for the win , and for those who excelled in all department. It's very important to understand the very fact that we cannot boast ourselves for achieving the result by playing with less ranked teams and specially in the sub continent pitches, we must think of wining a series away from sub continent (home) and in a pace wicket preferably aussi , english or newzeland would be ideal for that matter. giving youngsters a chance is must do thing but resting mahela and sanga would not be an ideal option. we can be great team if the SLC determine to do the right thing , "country before self"

  • Sanjeewa on January 31, 2014, 4:42 GMT

    I remember posting here when Suranga Lakmal made his debut in England a while back. I said he has potential and he should be given more chances to play. Glad to see my faith in him was justified. He always looked like a hard worker and the results are showing. We have a genuine, talented, pace attack now. Heck I would recommend giving these guys a chance over Malinga..he is not effective as he was and he leaks way too many runs. He has become what Sanath Jayasuriya was in the latter years of his career. Great performance once a full moon followed by many mediocre ones. Give the youth a chance. And good job Kiththa! Hopefully he gets a go in ODI's too. Fiery batsman

  • Shamalka on January 31, 2014, 3:45 GMT

    Thank you Mr.A.F.Fernando for this positive and sensible article. Yes, our young lions are in the hunt. Cheers to them!

  • Lalindra on January 31, 2014, 3:26 GMT

    #At Last something to cherish about Sr Lankan Cricket.....! Good vibes in the air....

  • Shehan on January 31, 2014, 2:58 GMT

    Sri Lankan selectors should rest Mahela and Kumar to bring youngsters in to the side. The 2nd test match will be a very good opportunity to do that.

  • Rizwan1970 on January 31, 2014, 1:18 GMT

    As Dilruwan perara is in the team as a all rounder and Srilanka has good wicket keeper batsman it is high time to consider, go into match with five genuine, bowlers the additional bowler can be a pace man or or spin bowler according to the situation. as in this situation BAN is more susceptible to pace the additional pace from Nuwan pradeep or newcomer Viswa Franandu will give more teeth to Srilanka.

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