It was a day of a few milestones. The Tigers posted 347-4, their highest score on a single day in a Test match. Mominul Haque registered his fifth hundred, his first after three years. And on his way to an unbeaten 175, the left-hander also became the fastest to cross the 2,000-run mark among the Bangladesh players. It looked like a satisfying opening day for Bangladesh against Sri Lanka at the Zahur Ahmed Chowdhury Stadium, where the Tigers, with a positive intent, hardly put a foot wrong after stand-in captain Mahmudullah Riyad opted to bat on a pitch that was nowhere near a 'dustbowl'.
Apart from the two blows in the last hour, when the Tigers lost Mushfiqur Rahim and Liton Das off successive deliveries, the day belonged to the home side. Mushfiqur missed out on a hundred by just eight runs after being part of a record 236-run stand for the third wicket with Mominul. Liton paid the price for shouldering his arms to a Suranga Lakmal delivery that nipped back to rattle his off-stump.
"It would have been a complete performance if the second wicket stand finished the day. We were a little anxious to avoid the collapse which we often have after a big partnership. It was unfortunate for Liton to get out just after Mushfiqur. I still believe it was a fantastic day for us," Tamim Iqbal told reporters during the post day media conference yesterday.
It was Tamim's positive start that put the Sri Lankan bowlers under immense pressure from the word go. The left-hander reached his 25th fifty off just 46 balls before being dismissed by a quicker delivery from off-spinner Dilruwan Perera.
"My plan to put them under pressure clicked. I was trying to attack their main bowlers from ball one and put them in the situation where we wanted them. They have two world-class spinners but at one point they didn't know where to bowl. We knew their past record, so to successfully attack them makes us happy," he said.
Although Dilruwan took two wickets, Bangladesh's ploy worked perfectly against a vintage Rangana Herath, who bowled 20 overs without success and conceded 100 runs.
The day well and truly belonged to Mominul, who not only punched the air in a wild celebration but also ran quite a distance before pointing his bat to the dressing room after completing his hundred. It was certainly a celebration quite unlike Mominul, who hardly shows any emotion after an achievement. It was unclear whether he wanted to prove a point to his former coach Chandika Hathurusingha, who was at the oppositions dug-out.
"He had a point to prove and I liked what he did. I understood what he meant," Tamim said without elaborating.
"Mominul was amazing throughout the day. He kept on playing the shots. He had a 103 strike-rate when he reached his 100. We knew it was a nice wicket to bat on, on Day One. So it was most important for us not to throw away our wickets. It is normal for a batsman to get overexcited on such a wicket, and play a risky shot. He knew how important his wicket was for us. We needed their big partnership. They were sensitive and positive. If there was a ball to hit, they did it very well. Mominul is still not out so I am sure he will go a long way," he added.