Mendis makes maximum out of no-ball reprieve

Rival captains Rangana Herath and Mushfiqur Rahim unveiled the Joy Bangla Cup that will be presented to the winners of the series prior to the commencement of the first Test at Galle.

GALLE: When Kusal Mendis inside edged a catch behind the wicket off the first ball he received and was given a reprieve by the head umpire who ruled that delivery a no-ball as the bowler Subash Roy had overstepped the crease he would have known that Lady Luck was certainly on his side.
Kusal Mendis celebrates his century on the first day of the first Test against Bangladesh at the Galle International Stadium yesterday. (Pix by Saman Mendis)

Following that awful first shot he played that nearly cost him his wicket Mendis from there onwards hardly put a foot wrong as he made his way towards his second Test century in 15 matches to put Sri Lanka in a much firmer footing than they were at one stage at the end of the first day of the first Test against Bangladesh played at the Galle International Stadium yesterday.

It was Mendis’ brilliant knock of 176 that paved the way for Sri Lanka’s 3-0 sweep of Australia in their last home series in July 2015, and it has taken him another seven months to notch up his second hundred at the highest level.

The way he is going he is certain to end up with another big score which could be the decisive factor in determining which way the series would go. Mendis was unbeaten on 166 at stumps having batted for 362 minutes and hit 18 fours and two sixes in his 242-ball innings with Niroshan Dickwella on 14.

At 149 Mendis passed 1000 Test runs – the 31st Sri Lankan player to do so and with Gunaratne, he shared a new fourth wicket partnership of 196 off 261 balls against Bangladesh erasing the previous highest of 150 by Kumar Sangakkara and Aravinda de Silva at the P Sara Oval in 2002.

Mendis of whom everyone expects big things was all class as he settled down to play some glorious pulls, drives and sweeps, mainly on the leg side where he collected 99 of his 166 runs.

Gunaratne continued his golden run with the bat and was unfortunate to be dismissed for 85 when he dragged a wide ball that could have been left alone onto his stumps. He had seven fours in his 134-ball knock of 85.

Mendis and Gunaratne raised the batting tempo during their partnership after Sri Lanka had scored only 61 runs in the first session of play so that by the day’s end the total had exceeded 300.

The final session of play produced 166 runs as the Lankan batsmen made capital out of the tired Bangladesh bowlers on a very hot day that saw the support staff bring out a giant umbrella to provide shade to the players during the drinks breaks.

The two batsmen Sri Lanka were banking on to score heavily Dimuth Karunaratne and Dinesh Chandimal both failed. Karunaratne coming to this Test on the back of a double century scored against England Lions in the unofficial test at Dambulla made 30 before chopping the ball onto his stumps.

Chandimal having scored an unbeaten 190 against this bowling attack for Sri Lanka President’s XI in the two-day warm-up match was strangely subdued scratching around 54 balls for five before dot balls brought about his downfall got the better of him and his expansive drive ended up in gully’s hands.

Upul Tharanga never looked a Test opener with his poor technique and it was no surprise when he was beaten all ends up by a delivery from Subash Roy that ripped through his defence and shattered his stumps in the sixth over of the day.

Sri Lanka strengthened their bowling attack for this Test going in with five specialist bowlers that included three spinners for the expense of a batsman Dhananjaya de Silva. Bangladesh also opted for five specialist bowlers but included three seamers instead.

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