Sri Lanka batsman Kusal Mendis missed what would have been his maiden double hundred, falling short by six runs in the first Test against Bangladesh at the Galle International Cricket Stadium.
For Mendis, it was probably the luckiest day in his blossoming career when he was bowled by a no-ball before opening his account and then went on to make a hundred from where he continued.
His innings also brought an end to a string of low scores during a tour of South Africa and some of his shots were reminiscent of an innings of 176 he made against Australia when the chips were down in a Test at Pallekele last July.
Bangladesh coach Chandika Hathurusinghe was one of the many analysts who were taken up by the innings of Mendis although it worked against his own charges.
“He looks mature for his age. He didn’t give us any chance, he batted really well. What I like about him is how he mixed caution with aggression; that is very mature for someone of his age,” Hathurusingha said.
Mendis’ stay at the crease was described as outstanding after he resumed his overnight score of 166 and went past his career-best of 176 made against Australia.
But Mendis also had some kind of a life when on 175 he hooked Bangladesh bowler Subashis Roy and the fine-leg fielder Mustafizur Rahman in attempting to grab a catch inadvertently stepped over the boundary ropes much to the relief of the Sri Lankan batsman.
Mendis may have dearly regretted the way he wanted to approach his 200 which was always there for the taking but so far.
In going for a swashbuckling shot over long-on, Mendis failed to clear the man on the boundary as Tamim Iqbal took a well judged catch. Iqbal flung the ball in the air as he appeared to lose his balance near the boundary line, regained himself and got under ball to complete the catch and see Mendis on his way to the pavilion.
In all, Mendis had batted for over seven hours and faced 285 deliveries hitting 19 fours and four sixes which was an indication of how he dominated the bowlers after being caught off a no-ball before scoring his first run.
Besides Mendis, Sri Lanka’s first innings total of 494 was further boosted by middle order batsman Niroshan Dickwella who made 75 from 76 balls hitting six fours and a six.
The last time Sri Lanka and Bangladesh played a Test match in Galle, the game ended in a high-scoring draw with current Bangladesh captain Mushfiqur Rahim making a double hundred.