Maintaining the level that they hit while bowling in the first ODI on Saturday was always going to be a tough ask, but yesterday in the second ODI the surprising thing was that Bangladesh's plans as well as execution were wide of the mark as Sri Lanka ran up a total of 311 all out.
The Tigers did pull things back quite effectively in the end, allowing Sri Lanka just 76 runs in the last 10 overs and taking six wickets, including a hattrick from Taskin Ahmed in the last three balls of the innings, but the main damage was done in the middle overs between the first drinks break till the dismissal of centurion Kusal Mendis by Taskin in the 38th over.
The pitch at the Rangiri Dambulla International Stadium was a flat one, but Bangladesh's tactics played into the hands of Sri Lanka's second and third-wicket pairs after the home side won the toss and did not repeat the mistake of choosing to field in the afternoon heat.
Considering the conditions, Bangladesh had not done terribly when drinks were taken after 16 overs with the score on 85. After the break however, with spin often being bowled from both ends, four of the three fielders allowed outside the 30-yard ring were stationed on the leg side.
With the batsmen already in command, that meant that the spinners -- Shakib Al Hasan, Mehedi Hasan Miraz and Mosaddek Hossain -- had little choice but to bowl on a middle and leg-stump line and with the pitch offering neither turn nor dual pace, it became all too easy for two subcontinent batsmen to help the incoming deliveries into the gaps.
With three fielders on the boundary on the leg side -- at various times switching between deep midwicket, deep fine leg, long on and square leg -- there was only one man stationed inside the circle on the leg side, which meant that when they were not hitting boundaries, it became all too easy and risk-free for Sri Lanka to put their foot on the accelerator.
Even when Bangladesh's spinners pitched it a little outside off stump, the Sri Lankan batsmen -- knowing from the field set that the line would not be too far outside off -- during the middle overs stepped across the stumps and hit to leg.
After Tharanga's freak run-out off a no-ball in the 25th over ended an 11-run stand with Mendis, the latter's ensuing partnership with Dinesh Chandimal that realised 83 runs in just 12.1 overs benefitted even more from this tactic.
While Chandimal worked the ball away for singles, Mendis hit seven boundaries and a six during the partnership as he raced to his maiden hundred. Six of those boundaries -- sweeps, sashays down the wicket to hit through and over the infield -- were on the leg side. In his innings of 102 off 107 balls Mendis hit just two of his nine boundaries on the off side.
Even though it was a flat wicket, Bangladesh had made things too easy for a Sri Lankan side which was vulnerable, as shown by the late collapse when faced with some tight bowling, which may have been too little too late from Bangladesh.