Eng v SL live: England on course for win, Rose Bowl, day four, close

Bowlers show Sri Lankans no mercy

Close: third Test, Rose Bowl, day four
Match score: Sri Lanka 112-3 (Sangakkara 44*, Herath 2*) and 184 all out (P Jayawardene 43; Tremlett 6-48) trail England 377-8 dec (Bell 119, Morgan 71, Pietersen 85, Cook 55) by 81 runs Full Scorecard
Session score: Sri Lanka 97-3 England win

More rich and varied Test cricket. After a golden day of batting by two of England’s classiest batsmen earlier in the day, the mammoth evening session restored a sense of contest to the game, and it was gripping.

From the Pavilion End end hurtled Stuart Broad, delivering the ball accurately at 90mph, sometimes at the head, sometimes at the stumps. From the Northern End drifted Graeme Swann, fizzing it into the footmarks. And throughout it all two left-handers, rookie Lahiru Thirimanne and veteran Kumar Sangakkara, showed courage and skill to withstand it – at least for a while.

Eleven overs had been bowled after tea – in which Tharanga Paranivitana had edged a beauty from James Anderson (see below) – when Andrew Strauss made a double change, bringing on Broad and Swann. In tandem they bowled 16 overs. Fourteen runs came from the first 11; the 21-year-old debutant Thirimanne was rooted to Broad’s end, while Sangakkara showed off immaculate technique to block out the probing Swann, who was flighting the ball into the rough.

Thirimanne withstood a fine, venomous spell from Broad. Balls whistled past his ears, zeroed in to his stumps and flew off a length. Yet the batsman had the nerve to come forward and drive – when he wasn’t protecting his wellbeing. Broad was seen off and Thiramanne’s reward was … Chris Tremlett. Five overs later a ball bouncing and seaming away caught the edge, and Thirimanne was cruelly denied a fifty. Batting, surely, can only get easier for him.

Tremlett again was superb on a pitch he might have made himself.

All of this was sadly missed by many of the spectators who decided to wander home long before the close. Perhaps they were drunk off the sweet touch of Ian Bell and Eoin Morgan, to which the contrasting intrigues of Sri Lanka’s resistance seemed an irrelevance.

After the breakthrough, Mahela Jayawardene rode his luck briefly until the returning and deserving Broad got a ball to move back in and take the shoulder of the bat. Jayawardene has made 103 runs in six innings in this series, with no fifties.

The nature of his dismissal showed just how much pace there is still in this outstanding Test wicket that Nigel Gray, the Rose Bowl groundsman, has prepared. There are clear signs, too, that bounce is becoming uneven. As long as the weather allows England a decent bowl tomorrow – and the forecast is not as bad as it looked – then Sri Lanka’s chances of survival look slim.

What there are of them rest in the skilled hands of Sangakarra, who is showing some fight when all around him is collapsing.

Odd coupling of the day: Hampshire chairman Rod Bransgrove speaking in 2009: ”I know Giles Clarke is not the resigning sort but I would have thought that even he would see his credibility in the game has gone.” ECB chairman Giles Clarke on Bransgove at around the same time: “He’s in a different position to those of us who are manifestly not in it for the money.” And yet the two could be seen sitting together at the Rose Bowl today. Nothing like a Test match to heal wounds.

Ball of the day: Tharanga Paranavitana could do nothing: before it pitched, James Anderson’s ball said ‘hey, I might swing in’. Then it spat off a perfect seam to take the left-hander’s outside edge.

Commentary of the day: “Bit early to take tea.” Shane Warne at 11.37am, when a brief shower tested the umpire’s patience. Yesterday tea had been called during a rare patch of afternoon sunshine, leaving spectators irate.

Cameo of the day: James Anderson’s 27 from 33 balls set the tone and the standard – cover drives galore.

Benj Moorehead is staff writer of The Cricketer

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