Colombo, day two

This was the day for which we have waited all winter. England dominated it pretty much from the word go and in another situation would probably be well on top. The conditions required scoring slower than usual, which England duly did. It means that they are not as well positioned as they might have been if they were at home, but are as well placed as they could ask to be here.

England started the day still needing four wickets and went after them patiently. It meant that I started to hear some hand-wringing as half an hour elapsed with no wickets, but it always looked like a case where one wold bring four and that is exactly what happened. The batsmen eventually tried to break the shackles and Strauss had the men set perfectly for it. His clever captaincy was mostly ignored, or course. Swann ended up with four wickets having bowled very well to get them. Jimmy ended up stuck on just the three he got yesterday morning, though he deserved rather more. It’s something that I need to look up, but it seems that Jimmy fairly often takes a few top-order wickets but only finishes with three or four as someone else cleans up the tail. Nothing wrong with that, of course, as long as the wickets are taken.

The highlight of the day was that England finally remembered how to bat. It won’t make the highlight reel because this was old-fashioned batting. Strauss and Cook kept out the good ones and tried to rotate the strike off worse ones. The run rate was only two and a bit per over, but that was what England needed. The runs did come, Strauss and Cook looked progressively more and more comfortable and Sri Lanka looked like they did not quite no what to do. The entire afternoon session passed without a wicket falling. It was precisely what England needed to do and even when Strauss departed in the last hour for a very well played 61, Trott picked up right where he left off. England finished on 154-1, trailing by only 121.

There is still a lot to do, of course. England are supremely well placed, but another collapse could still undo all that. We saw that happen in the first innings at Abu Dhabi, though the big partnership there was for the second wicket. If Cook and Trott can go the way they did there, after a big first wicket stand this time, then KP might not even come in until the scores are almost level. A collapse then might be too late for Sri Lanka, so they know that they have to get an early wicket tomorrow. It sounds surprising after all that has happened this winter, but right now the only one of the top five not to have scored some runs is KP. Even if he and Patel fail, England have enough lower order batting (Prior, Bresnan, Swann) to get a big lead if they’re only a few behind when Bell comes in. England have to go for big runs. It is very optimistic, but until there is a collapse England have to try to only bat once. They cannot try to up the rate, however, keep going as they are and accumulate. The plan will be to grind out the runs and declare around 500 before tea on the fourth day. Even if there is a bit of a collapse, if they stay sensible 400 is still possible. Or England could lose three wickets before lunch tomorrow and have to rely on Swann to get the lead up to fifty. That’s still possible too.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s