Kusal Mendis flicked, pulled and drove his way to an unbeaten 166 on the 1st day of the 1st Test against Bangladesh as the hosts finished on 321/4 at stumps.
Coming in at the dismissal of Upul Tharanga in just the 6th over, Kusal Mendis was nearly made to make the long walk back to the pavilion for a golden duck after having nicked his very 1st delivery to the keeper. However, a quick replay by the third umpire showed that Subashish Roy, who had gone past Tharanga’s half-hearted defence in the previous delivery, had marginally overstepped, giving Mendis a reprieve which he grabbed with both hands.
Mendis’ strokes really began to flow after the dismissal of Dinesh Chandimal, who inexplicably prodded his way to 5 off 54 deliveries. Mendis seemed to enjoy batting alongside Sri Lanka’s latest find Asela Gunaratne, who was unafraid to play his shots right throughout the innings. The pair put on a dominant display in the middle in a 196 run partnership for the 4th wicket, which is incidentally Sri Lanka’s highest 4th wicket stand against Bangladesh in Tests.
Gunaratne had a century of his own within sights when he chopped on a delivery from Taskin Ahamed as he fell for a well-made 85.
Earlier in the day, Bangladesh had begun well, dismissing both openers Tharanga and Karunaratne in the 1st session in what proved to be a disciplined bowling performance. Despite their hard work, the visitors found it hard to find the outside edge of the bat or even beat the bat as the Galle pitch proved to one made for the batsman, at least at the beginning of the game.
The conditions made Chandimal’s ultra conservative approach even more confusing as despite not being beaten by the bowlers, he just could not find a way to get off strike. All in all, it was a poor performance from a man who had blasted pretty much the same bowling line-up to all parts in the practice game last week.