It was not the desired start for new challenges in the New Year. It was not a performance that reflected the determination showed and hard work put in over the last one and a half year. The reason was the naïve batting approach of the Tigers, with skipper Mushfiqur Rahim being the exception, which saw Sri Lanka taking early control of the first Test match. At the end of the first day's play at the Sher-e-Bangla National Stadium in Mirpur, the home team were in a position to embrace the decade-old fate of humiliation against the Lankans, unless the bowlers do something special on a wicket which offers some uncharacteristic bounce. The visitors finished the day comfortably at 60 for no loss after wrapping up their opponents for 232. The Lankans wore black armbands to mourn the death of Sisira Terence Jayawardene, the father of teammate Prasanna Jayawardene, who missed the match and flew back to Sri Lanka yesterday.
The perennial top order batting problem resurfaced, even though a new face in Shamsur Rahman debuted to open the innings with Tamim Iqbal, as the home side went for lunch losing four wickets for 74 runs.
Many were surprised in the morning when Sri Lanka skipper Angelo Mathews sent his opponents in to bat first on a surface known to assist batsmen but his two new-ball operators, Suranga Lakmal and Shaminda Eranga, executed the plan to perfection by using the bounce on offer with an ample supply of short balls which proved enough to trap the home batsmen. It was a good track for batting that only asked batsmen to be purposeful in their innings. Bangladesh, on the other hand, seemed not to have anticipated the Lankan's pace quality even after seeing the new-look pace attack trouble Pakistan 's batsmen in their last series. There was also hardly any evidence that Bangladesh's batsmen came here on the back of good form in the just-concluded domestic four-day competition.
Tamim was struggling from the beginning and could not capitalise on a life. Eranga, who moved both ways off the seam in the morning, should have had Tamim for six in his fourth over but Kaushal Silva fumbled at short-leg. In the next over he tempted Tamim into a hook that the left-hander top-edges to fine leg. After Mathews had nailed Marshall Ayub with an in-ducker, Eranga also got the wicket of the ambitious Shamsur, who drove at one that swung away from him and was caught at gully to end his 33-run knock. The hero in the last home series against New Zealand, Mominul Haque became another victim of a short ball, this time from Lakmal, to leave Bangladesh at 59 for four.
The middle session provided hope through the batting of the rapid Shakib Al Hasan and the measured Mushfiqur. Shakib looked to get on top of the bowlers by counterattacking the short balls without keeping in mind that one could take the edge to the waiting close-in fielders. His impudence almost cost him his wicket more than once, before finally left-arm spinner Rangana Herath beat Shakib's ambitious sweep with one that dipped and straightened. Shakib had a partnership and a half-century to his credit but it was in no way the ideal innings in the circumstances.
Mushfiqur was the man who deserved all the praise for his sensible batting before a doubtful leg-before decision from Nigel Llong put an end to his 61-run knock. He smashed two consecutive boundaries through the cover area against Lakmal because the punishment was, but otherwise he fended away the short stuff and met moving deliveries with a dead bat.
Nasir Hossain might also have been unlucky to get out to a fine, rising delivery but overall the day's story was one of poor batting.