Sri Lanka show fight in trying conditions
Close: third Test, day one, Rose Bowl
Match score: Sri Lanka 81-4 (Samarweera 24*, P Jayawardene 10*) Full Scorecard
Session score: Sri Lanka 52-1 Sri Lanka win
What to do when faced with James Anderson and Chris Tremlett in this kind of form and in these kind of conditions? One bends it this way and that, the other gets it to whistle through off a good length at such a height that the wicketkeeper is taking it up by his throat. Credit the Sri Lankans, then, for not folding as they did at Cardiff.
They had 20 overs to bat in the evening session – another patch of play on which there seemed little to gain and all to lose. The ball was careering through off the surface, a packed slip cordon was expecting – not to mention Ian Bell pouncing at short leg – and the bowling was accurate. Runs – what there were of them – dribbled in leg-byes.
Jayawardene played patience for 24 balls but was then undone by a rising ball of fullish length from Tremlett. He and Sangakkara now have a series average of 16.20 from 10 innings between them.
Thilan Samaraweera and Prasanna Jayawardene battled their way through the oooohs and ahhhs of the crowd, half of whom had given in to the rain and missed the final session. And, in utter contrast to everything that had gone before, Samaraweera unveiled two beautiful cover-drives – the first off the backfoot from the inconspicuous Stuart Broad, the second played on one knee when Anderson returned.
Despite the fightback – the fifth-wicket partnership has now reached 42 – it is hard to see Sri Lanka clawing a respectable total, especially as the forecast for tomorrow is for more of the same. Who said it was a batsman’s game?
Historic moment of the day: England’s 10th Test ground was officially opened when James Anderson bowled to Tharanga Paranavitana at 12.15pm.
Shot of the day: Kumar Sangakkara, if you’ll forgive the sarcasm. In conditions offering swing and bounce, he flew at a wide one from James Anderson and was caught at first slip. It was the shot of a frustrated man and an unhappy captain.
Innings of the day: Lahiru Thirimanne’s 10 runs from 38 balls. This was a 21-year-old on debut facing the finest swinger of the ball in the game in conditions set to hoop. A low score it may be, but Thirimanne survived an hour because of admirable watchfulness and and by playing the ball late. Impressive.
Monsoon of the day: The sky had an upset tummy all afternoon, and just before lunch it really let us have it. Dark clouds swarmed over the ground, sideways rain came sweeping down, and the distant hills disappeared from view.
Exodus of the day: One half of the Rose Bowl offers no shelter for spectators. When it rains, the spectators as one head to the canopied areas where the beer flows (how convenient), leaving rows of empty seats behind them.
Attacking field of the day: To Mahela Jayawardene, England had seven in the arc from first slip to gully, and a short-leg. This to a man averaging well over 50 in Tests.
Forgotten man of the day: Stuart Broad. Who?
Benj Moorehead is staff writer for The Cricketer