Sri Lanka skipper Rangana Herath denied accusations that his team was complacent during the second Test against Bangladesh at the P. Sara Oval, which they lost by four wickets on Sunday (March 19). It was Sri Lanka’s first Test defeat against the youngest cricket playing nation.
Courtesy Rex Clementine
The Sri Lankans were accused of being cocky after five of their players turned up for the fourth day’s play less than 30 minutes before the commencement of day’s proceedings. Sri Lanka were trailing by 75 runs at Stumps on Day 3 in their second innings and on the fourth morning, players batting from number six onwards arrived at the venue only after 9.30 local time. That prompted the local media to accuse the team of being overconfident.
“Let me tell you one thing clearly, we did not underestimate the opposition and we weren’t complacent. We wanted to give all our bowlers a bit of break. We knew that we will have to bowl again. We didn’t certainly underestimate them,” Herath explained.
However, the bowlers weren’t required to perform on Day 4 as Sri Lanka finished the day on 268 for 8 with a lead of 139. They set the tourists a target of 191 on the final day and Bangladesh won with four wickets to spare.
“I thought that we could defend the target. We have defended similar targets against India and Pakistan. So having three spinners, I was confident that we could pull it off. We had got two early wickets as well but after Lunch, they were attacking and the game slipped away from us,” Herath, who took three wickets on his 39th birthday, said.
Herath admitted that putting down the chance of Shakib Al Hasan early in the first innings proved to be costly. “Shakib we dropped when he was on 11 and he went onto get a century. We can’t afford to do mistakes like that and we need to do lot of work.
“There are ups and downs in the sport. I have been in two World Cup squads where we reached the finals and lost. Winning and losing is part of the sport,” Herath said when asked whether it was his worst day in cricket.
The one hour’s period after Lunch on Day 4 proved to be the turning point of the game as left-arm quick Mustafizur Rahman reverse swung the ball to devastating effect as Sri Lanka lost five wickets for just 47 runs.
“We were going well in the second innings. After Upul (Tharanga) had got out, Dimuth (Karunaratne) and Kusal (Mendis) were going great and then we lost five wickets for 40 runs. That was the key. That was the turning point of the game. That shouldn’t have happened and we collapsed.”
Herath though was not shy to applaud the improvement that Bangladesh have made in the last three years. “They have certainly improved a lot since the last time I played against them. Earlier when they got partnerships going, they didn’t absorb the pressure well. Now they do that well and counter our plans too and they are very clever.”