Sri Lanka recorded their second biggest
ever Test win by an innings, wrapping up the first Test an hour after lunch on the fourth day with Bangladesh still 248 runs short of making the visitors bat again. An innings deficit of 498 was demoralising enough for Bangladesh to capitulate without a fight, and there was no stoic resistance from them to take the game to the fifth day, let alone save the game. Sri Lanka's seamers began the slide before the middle order succumbed to the offspin of Dilruwan Perera
, who took a five-wicket haul in only his second Test.
Sri Lanka had batted themselves into position from which they would certainly not have to pad up again. The same pitch that produced 730 runs in a single innings was made to look like a seamer's paradise when Sri Lanka took the ball, causing the Bangladesh batsmen to hop and weave even on a fourth-day surface. In the end, Sri Lanka narrowly missed recording their biggest innings win
, that of 254 runs against Zimbabwe 10 years ago.
The wickets in the morning were attributed more to good bowling from the visitors, and the aggressive approach from the hosts always gave the bowlers a sniff. The only cheer for Bangladesh was a brisk fifty by Mominul Haque
, but it did little to wrest the initiative from Sri Lanka.
The overcast conditions were ripe for seam bowling and Sri Lanka prised out two wickets with the short ball. Shaminda Eranga's snorter off the second ball of the morning was too good for Shamsur Rehman who failed to pick the ball from the gloom and gloved it to the wicketkeeper. Marshall Ayub was impressive with his defense before he too was found wanting with his technique against the bouncer. Suranga Lakmal bowled round the wicket with a leg gully and short leg waiting and Ayub failed to fend it off, lobbing the ball to Kaushal Silva at short leg.
Bangladesh were firmly pegged on the back foot but the situation didn't deter Shakib Al Hasan and Mominul from going for their strokes. The seamers persisted with the short stuff and both left-handers were compulsive with the pull, though not all shots were in control. Mominul wasn't afraid to slash over the slips and point and Shakib too didn't restrain himself.
The introduction of spin, via Perera, sunk the hosts further. Shortly after Shakib brought up the fifty stand with a cover-driven boundary, he played back to Perera and was trapped lbw to one that went through with the arm. Mominul brought up his half-century, off just 52 balls before he too fell lbw to Perera, playing back. There was a semblance of doubt with the verdict, however, as replays indicated that the ball may have been sliding down the leg side.
Mushfiqur's wicket was probably the biggest blow, for he has shown on many occasions that he can occupy the crease, a quality many of his teammates have failed to show consistently. In the last over before lunch, he was beaten by flight going for the drive and bowled through the gate.
Nasir Hossain was the only specialist batsman remaining but he too succumbed to a poor stroke, skying the ball to mid-off, giving Perera his fourth wicket. The two Hossains - Rubel and Al-Amin - gave the crowd something to cheer with a blazing last-wicket stand of 53 in just 6.2 overs, but it wasn't enough to hide the embarrassment of their fourth-biggest innings defeat, that too at home.
Bangladesh have an extra day to ponder over the loss and rethink their combination for the Chittagong Test which begins on February 4. They picked three seamers on a pitch in Mirpur that had more bounce than a typical Bangladesh surface, but as Sri Lanka proved, in order to exploit it to the fullest you needed bowlers with extra yards of pace like Eranga and Lakmal. With the series at stake, Bangladesh could revert to a more spin-heavy attack and prove that their progress in 2013 was no fluke.