The English openers, Andres Strauss (61) and Alastair Cook (77 not out) put on a century partnership to lay a solid foundation for England to launch its campaign to square the series on the second day of the second and final test against Sri Lanka. At close of play, England was 154 for 1, in reply to Sri Lanka’s first innings score of 275.
Cook was joined by Jonathan Trott (15 not out, 44 balls) and the pair has put on 32 runs so far. England is still 121 runs adrift of the Sri Lankan score, but the way the English batsmen have applied themselves it seems clear that they want to make a match of this test.
For the first time this entire season, English captain Strauss, in terrible form this English winter, and his once-prolific-scoring-partner Cook put on a century partnership. This could make the difference between victory and defeat. Both were very watchful and took their time scoring; the English 100 came in 267 balls. Strauss himself reached his 27th half-century – and he will perhaps cherish this much more than the other 26 – and put to rest the debate surrounding the captaincy affecting his batting. Cook, badly in need of a score to reflect his talent, made his 50 in 164 balls – his 28th - and looked set for a lot more.
And just when it looked like the pair would last the whole day, Strauss went back and attempted to cut Dilshan. The thick deflection was smartly held by Prasanna Jayawardene. Trott and Cook put safety over flair and played through the final session. Never mind that the last session of play produced only 71 runs in 30 overs.
After the end of day’s play on Tuesday, Sri Lankan batsman Thilan Samaraweera said there was uneven bounce, and that the odd ball was keeping low. Nothing of that sort was visible from the morning of Day 2.
The Sri Lankan tail did not wag too long, and folded up at 275. This lack of application on the part of the lower order could cost Sri Lanka the match. The opening English pair appeared in no serious difficulty, and worked around the bowling that was accurate but not threatening.
Earlier, Sri Lanka added 37 runs in 21 overs this morning before all the last four batsmen surrendered. Angelo Mathews made a patient 57, but he too was undone when he drove a Swann delivery into the hands of a waiting mid-wicket. By the end of the day, it was clear that the 275 Sri Lanka made in the first innings was just not enough. Graeme Swann came back strongly to pick up 4 wickets in a space of 6.1 overs to show that he has mastered Sri Lankan conditions. He finished the first innings with 4 for 75, and will be a certain threat when Sri Lankans pad up a second time.
Sri Lanka – 1st innings: T.M.Dilshan c Prior b Anderson 14, L.Thirimanne lbw Anderson 8, K.Sangakkara c Strauss b Anderson 0, M.Jayawardene lbw Swann 105, T.Samaraweera lbw Bresnen 54, A.Mathews c Strauss b Swann 57, P.Jayawardene c Prior b Finn 7, S.Randiv c Peiterson b Swann 12, D.Prasad (not out) 12, R.Herath c Prior b Bresnen 2, S.Lakmal b Swann 0. Extras: 4 (b4). Total: 271 in 111.1 overs.
Fall of Wickets: 1-21, 2-21, 3-30, 4-154, 5-216, 6-227, 7-258, 8-261, 9-270.
England: Anderson 22-5-62-3, Finn 22-4-51-1, Bresnen 21-3-47-2, Patel 16-3-32-0, Swann 28.1-4-75-4, Peiterson 2-0-4-0.
England – 1st innings: A.Strauss c P.Jayawardene b Dilshan 61, A.Cook (not out) 77, J.Trott (not out) 15. Extras: 1 (nb 1). Total 154 for 1 in 66 overs.
Fall of Wickets: 1-126.
Sri Lanka: S. Lakmal 13-3-34-0, D. Prasad 9-4-24-0, R. Herath 19-2-46-0, T.M. Dilshan 8-1-16-1, S. Randiv 17-4-34-0
Keywords: England's tour of Sri Lanka