Colombo, day three

A marvellous day for England. I said last night that Sri Lanka had to be worried about the implications of England’s batting clicking and we did exactly that today. KP was fantastic, absolutely dominating the Sri Lankan bowlers and showing how good he really can be. It must be said, he benefited from the top order batting well. Strauss was out last might, but Cook and Trott batted well into the morning today and England were well set by the time KP came to the middle. Batting with the pressure off and Sri Lanka already starting to fray around the edges he set about putting his boot on their throat and by the time the lunch interval came around Sri Lanka were starting to lose it in the field. They wasted both of their reviews in rapid succession, the second one a horrible referral. They then started to fire the ball around and conceded quite a few overthrows before the interval.

The big controversy of the day came with KP on 98*. He was looking imperious and had recently hit a switch-hit for four. He then set up to do so again and Dilshan pulled out. This happened twice and after Dilshan had a word with the umpires they decided to warn KP for time wasting! Whilst they did not say that KP could not play the shot, they did give him an official warning for setting himself before the bowler was in his delivery stride. As far as it goes, that is correct: all though the MCC ruled that the shot was legal, the ICC said that in international cricket the hands must not be reversed before the bowler enters his stride. The problem here was that the replay clearly showed that KP had switched his hands after the bowler had entered his stride and was thus well within his rights to do what he did. In fact, the second time KP did not even get around to switch his hands before Dilshan pulled out. The player who was wasting time was Dilshan. The entire Sri Lankan team was in a strop by this point and this was a blatant attempt at gamesmanship and sad to say, it worked. The umpires should have stood up to it, however, and it was a very, very spineless effort by them to cave in. Luckily KP was untroubled by this and brought up his hundred with a reverse sweep anyway. But it was absolutely appalling behaviour from both Sri Lanka and very poor from the umpires. Hopefully England will lodge a firm complaint about this, but in the meantime I hope Jimmy, Finn and Bres ping a few off Dilshan’s nose tomorrow. Though if he needs treatment, the umpire will probably warn England for time wasting.

Apart from that, it was a very good day for England. Four hundred and sixty all out represents a first innings lead of 185 and Sri Lanka will do well just to make England bat again. England were bowled out with one over left in the day, but Dishonourable Dilshan did not even go out to face the music, instead sending out Prasad as a nightwatchman. He survived and Sri Lanka are 4-0 overnight. There was not only turn, but very uneven bounce on display as England batted and all four of England’s main bowlers will surely be very eager to have a go tomorrow. Whilst England will probably bat again, I do not expect the match to last into a fifth day.

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