Pietersen battles through to set up last-day opportunity for him and his team
Close: Second Test, day four, Lord’s
Match score: England 149-2 (Cook 61*, Pietersen 15*; Trott 58) and 486 (Cook 96, Bell 52, Morgan 79, Prior 126, Broad 54; Welegedara 4-122) lead Sri Lanka 479 (Paranavitana 65, Dilshan 193; Finn 4-108) by 156 runs Full scorecard
Session score: England 131-1 England win
Before this match Andrew Strauss described the quest to become the No.1 as a “long-term goal”, long-term being the key word. Neither he nor Andy Flower do anything that isn’t thought-through or logical.
The idea that England would try to tee up this match by setting Sri Lanka a target they might go for, as captains might routinely do in the County Championship, was always fanciful.
Flower and Strauss are not men to get ahead of themselves and England did not bat like they were thinking too far ahead. They don’t do gung-ho and they weren’t in a position to be after losing Strauss to the second ball of the innings but nor were they put under any subsequent pressure by Sri Lanka.
It was the second time in the match that Strauss had been dismissed by Chanaka Welegedara and the 22nd time in his Test career that he had been out to a left-arm seamer. Like Pietersen’s left-arm spin phobia, this one isn’t going away.
When Jonathan Trott was out, after he and Alastair Cook had racked up their fourth century stand in seven Tests, the England innings was travelling at 4.6 an over.
The arrival of Kevin Pietersen, with the left-arm spinner Herath already on having dismissed Trott, brought a dip in tempo which shows you how his circumstances have changed.
But he was steady, concentrated and controlled. It was a tense period, the classic game within a game that Test cricket does like no other sport, but it sets up an intriguing last day, at least for himself with the opportunity for a return to form.
How ambitious England are remains to be seen but it seems unlikely in the extreme that they would allow Sri Lanka even a notional chance of victory.
Shot of the day: For elegance, Jonathan Trott’s on-drive off Farveez Maharoof in the 14th over of England’s second innings. For wow factor, Rangana Herath’s off-balance slog-sweep six off Graeme Swann. For relief, KP’s lofted straight drive off Herath, his first four off the 26th ball he had faced.
Ball of the day: The one from Steven Finn that cracked No.11 Suranga Lakmal on the helmet, requiring a replacement.
Catch of the day: Left-handed reflex at slip from Strauss (his 100th in Tests) to take a thin edge from Dilhara Fernando off Swann.
Decision of the day: The umpires were understandably booed by the near-frozen Lord’s crowd when they took the players off in the 17th over of England’s innings despite the floodlights being on.
Stat of the day: Finn (at 22 years, 63 days) became the youngest England bowler to take 50 Test wickets beating Ian Botham who was six months older when he got there in 1978.
Celeb of the day: Chef Heston Blumenthal appeared in the media centre accompanied by Mark Nicholas.
Cheer of the day: Small crowd but big noise for KP’s first-ball forward defensive to Rangana Herath.
Commentary banter of the day: Discussing KP, Nick Knight: “This is probably the kiss of death but he looks more solid than I’ve seen him recently.” David Lloyd: “Sshhh, ssshhh.”
Russel Arnold on Dilhara Fernando over-stepping: “At one point it got so bad that the little village he comes from in Sri Lanka became known as No-Ball Junction.”
John Stern is a former editor of The Cricketer
Follow him on Twitter @Cricketer_John