Dilshan puts his hand up
Tillakaratne Dilshan's sixth Test hundred rescued Sri Lanka from a potentially embarrassing first day against Bangladesh in the second Test in Chittagong. Bangladesh had continued in much the same spirit of their brave last-innings chase in the first Test and had Sri Lanka reduced to 75 for 4, before Dilshan intervened.
It was some intervention as well, for defying the traditionally dour rearguard, he sped along mostly at over a run a ball, finally ending with a strike-rate just a touch under. And though it was captain Mahela Jayawardene's 100th Test, mostly overlooked was the fact that it was Dilshan's 50th. More than a present for the skipper, it was one for himself.
"It was an opportunity for someone to put a hand up and I am happy to have contributed," Dilshan said. "Every game is important for a Test cricketer. It was also my 50th Test match and very important for me also."
Sri Lanka's troubles had been caused by a slow surface, though Dilshan made it look a lot better as the day wore on. It wasn't chanceless; an innings of that much aggression rarely is but Imrul Kayes' drop at mid-on, when Dilshan was on 78, was a costly one. "That's part of the game. It gives you an opportunity to capitalise and if you get a let off you should then try and make a big score.
"The wicket is very good. It is a good Test wicket but maybe a bit on the slower side."
That chance was one of a few Bangladesh fluffed and it was the one thing they couldn't afford were they not to slip from the heights of the last Test. Enamul Haque jnr, the left-arm-spinner who came in at the expense of the seamer Mahbubul Alam, eventually dismissed Dilshan, but his return to the Test side after nearly a year wasn't a particularly memorable one.
"It [the day] could have been a lot better if we hadn't dropped three catches and missed a stumping chance," Haque said. "Still I think we are in it. The situation I should say is 50-50 after day one and if we can bowl them out early tomorrow and bat well then we should be back in the game. We just need a big effort from the batsmen.
"I think our fielding has improved a lot. Today was one of those days and there are days when we take difficult catches and miss easy ones. I am sure that if you give Imrul ten such catches he'd take each and every one of those. The misses today were just accidents."
At some point tomorrow, Bangladesh will be properly introduced to the threat of Ajantha Mendis, who is back himself in the side after an injury. The pitch will deteriorate as the Test progresses and the combined threat of Muttiah Muralitharan and Mendis, said Dilshan, will be considerable.
"I think it will turn for those two. The bounce could be a bit uneven later on and they [Bangladesh batsmen] haven't played Ajantha much. So I hope both bowlers will do well here," said Dilshan.