England’s struggle for breakthroughs curtailed by rain
Close: Second Test, day three, Lord’s
Match score: Sri Lanka 372-3 (Paranavitana 65, Dilshan 193) trail England 486 all out (Cook 96, Bell 52, Morgan 79, Prior 126, Broad 54; Welegedara 4-122) by 114 runs Full scorecard
Session score: Sri Lanka 0-0 Draw
England require an even more spectacular rabbit-from-the-hat trick if they are to extend their winning sequence at Lord’s, after radars malfunctioned on two fronts.
Ill-directed bowling preceded an afternoon deluge that wiped out the latter half of the third day – the predicted forecast had been for rain from 9pm onwards – with Sri Lanka appearing on course for a first-innings lead. Seventeen wickets required either side of a second dash with the bat over the remaining two days, it will take a repeat of the Cardiff conclusion and then some to make it five consecutive wins at headquarters.
Even before the wet weather, the pitch displayed the docile hallmarks of the six straight draws prior to wins over West Indies, Australia, Bangladesh and Pakistan. And England’s attack suffered for their inability to make best use of their two new balls.
On flat surfaces, early inroads become a necessity, and it was Sri Lanka’s triple strike on Friday morning that justified an insertion and ultimately kept England below 500.
Given England’s predicament, thoughts naturally turned to absent friends. The recuperating James Anderson’s swing was sorely missed, while another crock Tim Bresnan would have offered greater variation to a uniform attack of giant seamers. Too often the recalled Steve Finn, Stuart Broad and Chris Tremlett were excessive in length or lacked direction.
Frustratingly, when the ball did hoop excessively it was all too often after it had passed the bat, and a general lack of control was highlighted when Finn, operating from the pavilion end, shoved one so far down the leg-side that wicketkeeper Prior did well to fingertip it to the rope at fine-leg.
It would have made painful viewing for England captain Andrew Strauss. In contrast, his opposite number Tillakaratne Dilshan’s discomfort manifested itself physically via a second blow to his right thumb from Tremlett. Struck on 55 by the 6ft 8ins bowler yesterday, another grimace was followed by his dismissal shortly before a rain-induced early tea.
Having defied the discomfort to within seven runs of a maiden Test double hundred, he succumbed to a delivery that ran back down the famous Lord’s slope, clipped trouser and struck stumps. Finn doubled his match tally in the process.
England’s one morning success was the removal of Dilshan’s predecessor Kumar Sangakkara, who, having gloved one down the leg-side agonisingly wide of wicketkeeper Prior’s grasp in Broad’s second over of the morning, extended his wretched form in Tests in this country. A nibble at a Chris Tremlett delivery, the fourth with the second new ball, dropped Sangakkara’s English average to 27.64 – an extraordinary statistic when compared to his stellar career return of close to 57.
Shot of the day: Tillakaratne Dilshan’s effortless push through mid-on for four off Stuart Broad in the second over of the second new ball.
Innings of the day: Dilshan: Despite his discomfort, enhanced by a second blow on the right thumb from Chris Tremlett today, the Sri Lanka captain provided a uncharacteristic calm to the tourists’ innings.
Ball of the day: Steve Finn jagged one back down the slope from the Pavilion End to rattle the ball through Dilshan’s defence.
Stat of the day: Kumar Sangakkara’s Test average in England has slumped to 27.64 – less than half of his career average – following his latest failure. In 15 innings here he has just two half-centuries.
Heated Moment: The Fine Chicken Co’s fast-food van, stationed on the nursery ground, was ablaze during the stoppage for rain. Two fire engines were called.
Commentary banter of the day: David Lloyd: “If he is caught out there, I will show my backside on Blackburn Boulevard.” Bumble discusses the merits of England posting a cover-point sweeper in their bid to prise out Dilshan.
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