Bangladesh wilt against Sri Lankan prowess
After the one-way traffic at the Sinhalese Sports Club, the series desperately needed a closely-fought opening day to the second Test. Alas, Bangladesh folded once again and this time their implosion was even more spectacular and depressing. After just 70.5 overs of cricket there was only one winner in this game.
The furrowed brow of Shaun Williams, Bangladesh's interim coach, told the story as he sat on the balcony looking blankly at his laptop after lunch, no doubt searching for answers as to how his team could have lost ten wickets in just 25.2 overs. The high of qualifying for the Super Eights during the World Cup has long since passed for Bangladesh's players and fans.
The blame certainly can't be laid on the pitch, a fairly typical strip at the P Saravanamuttu Oval. Both captains would have bowled, encouraged by a bit of moisture as is customary on the first morning. But even though the conditions were bowler-friendly before lunch, this was no horror track. The pace and bounce was even and the movement wasn't extravagant.
Sri Lanka deserve credit for Bangladesh's humiliating capitulation. All four of their bowlers were exemplary and their catching excellent, especially Mahela Jayawardene in the slips, who pouched three with consummate ease, and also Malinda Warnapura, who flung himself acrobatically to his left to cling on to a sharp chance off Mohammad Ashraful.
The star performer, although pipped at the end by Muttiah Muralitharan in terms of statistics, was Lasith Malinga. At the SSC, he threatened with the old ball, but here he bowled in a more traditional vein, landing the ball on a good length and swinging it out. Two batsmen edged behind, Shariar Nafees missed a perfect inswinger and Ashraful fell for a leg-side trap set by Jayawardene, clipping to Warnapura at a deep-set forward short leg.
Bangladesh had slumped to 22 for 4 within the first hour, even before Murali came on to bowl. Their top order had coped quite well against Murali in the second innings at the SSC, but their middle and lower order were clueless against his doosra. Mushfiqur Rahim's dismissal was a perfect example: twice Murali allowed him to drive through the covers, lulling him into a false sense of security, only to land a perfectly-pitched doosra that Rahim lunged forward to and edged behind.
When Murali finished off the innings two balls after lunch with another doosra that hit the top of off stump, another Sri Lankan run glut before a declaration after tea on day two was on the cards. Nothing happened in the final two sessions to prevent this eventual outcome; the only surprise was that runs came at a relatively slow pace.
Michael Vandort was uncorked by a terrific delivery from Mashrafe Mortaza, by far the best of the Bangladeshi bowlers, but Warnapura and Kumar Sangakkara had few alarms. Warnapura showed no nerves after his golden duck at SSC, flicking elegantly for four to get off the mark, and then proceeded to score all round the wicket, excelling on the off side against the quick bowlers. Sangakkara, meanwhile, was clearly determined to cash-in, playing with uncharacteristic caution.
The second day promises to be a painful day for Bangladeshi supporters. Mahela Jayawardene had called for his batsmen to deliver big hundreds in the build up to the Test and they can expect ideal batting conditions on the second day. Bangladesh will hope that Mortaza can conjure up something special during the first hour, when there might be some assistance after the heavy rain tonight, but if he cannot, tomorrow will be all about damage limitation.
Charlie Austin is Cricinfo's Sri Lankan correspondent