Bangladesh made a good comeback as Taskin Ahmed scalped three wickets following a dismal showing on the first day, but Niroshan Dickwella's run-a-ball 64 in the latter stages of the second day helped hosts Sri Lanka counterattack and end the day on 469 for 6 at the Pallekele International Cricket Stadium yesterday.
Dickwella and Ramesh Mendis added a brisk unbeaten 87-run seventh-wicket stand to keep the hosts on top despite the visiting bowlers managing to pick wickets at regular intervals on the second day.
Dropped catches and missed opportunities remained a feature for Bangladesh for the second consecutive day. Najmul Hossain dropped yet another catch at second slip after Mendis edged a delivery from Taskin, missing the chance to break the partnership before bad light forced an early end to the days' play.
Najmul had previously dropped an easy catch at slip off Taskin's bowling on the first day, giving Sri Lankan skipper Dimuth Karunaratne a reprieve on 28 that the left-hander cashed in on by scoring 118.
But it was a good start to the day by the Bangladesh bowlers, especially Taskin, who has shown vast improvements on his comeback to the Test format in Sri Lanka. The tall pacer kept things tight alongside pacers Shoriful Islam and Abu Jayed in the first session, when the hosts managed to score just 43 runs at the cost of three wickets.
Taskin picked up his first wicket by getting centurion Lahiru Thirimanne caught down le side for 140. Angelo Matthews survived off Taskin's bowling early on when none of the Bangladeshi fielders heard the ball take the edge, but Taskin managed to dismiss Matthews as Liton Das took a sharp diving catch to his right behind the stumps.
Left-arm spinner Taijul Islam dismissed Dhananjaya de Silva just before lunch, denting the hosts further as they lost three wickets for 15 runs. Oshanda Fernando and Pathum Nissanka then steadied the ship in the post-lunch session, adding 54 runs before Taskin once again brought the visitors back in the game.
Nissanka, who also got a lifeline through yet another dropped catch when he was on ten, was bowled for thirty by a sharp incoming Taskin delivery.
At the other end, a solid Fernando was eyeing his second Test ton before Liton displayed great presence of mind to dismiss him. The wicketkeeper anticipated that the batsman would go for a sweep to off-spinner Mehedi Hasan Miraz and caught a catch down the leg side to send the right-hander back to the pavilion for 81.
The hosts staged a good comeback afterwards, riding on Dickwella and Mendis. The two batters accelerated the run rate, with Dickwella especially manufacturing shots and playing all along the ground to keep the visiting bowlers thinking.
Bangladesh will be looking to bundle out Sri Lanka early on the third day while the hosts will be eyeing some quick runs to ramp up the pressure on the Tigers when they come to bat.