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Despite losing wickets at regular intervals, England managed to put themselves ahead at the end of Day 1 against Sri Lanka at Lord’s. Abhijit Banare looks at the highlights and the turning points of the day’s play.
England batsmen fail to capitalize on starts: England’s summer got off to a poor start as debutant opener Sam Robson and skipper Alastair Cook departing cheaply. Cook in particular looked like he was still stuck with the horror of last summer, playing from his crease. It was his strength that did him in ultimately, as he tried to cut and played on to the stumps.
Gary Ballance too conceded his wicket chasing a wide delivery after doing all the hard work. It was Ian Bell who rescued England once again, but he failed to make it big. He was dismissed by Shaminda Eranga for 56.
Moeen Ali — The impressive debutant: Merely 10 minutes in to the crease, Moeen Ali drew comparisons with South Africa’s new Test skipper, Hashim Amla. With a wristy style like most Asian batsmen, Moeen was batting with the calmness that suggested he belonged to this format of the game. He did a brilliant job rebuilding the innings along with Root, but all the patience went down the drain when he went for an awkward slog and edged to slips.
Decoding Rangana Herath: England seemed to have some strategy against Lanka’s trump card Rangana Herath. The first ball faced by Moeen Ali against Herath was dispatched for a six. The batsmen were using their feet often or playing forward against him rather than staying put in the crease, and that paid off.
Matt Prior’s review gone wrong for Sri Lanka: Herath came round the wicket and angled one in to Matt Prior. The ball beat the batsman’s defence, and hit the back leg. Umpire Paul Reiffel turned down the appeal. Having successfully reviewed once, Sri Lanka reviewed it again. The ball had pitched well outside off, but the point of impact was in the line and the ball would’ve gone on to crash into the top of the middle stump. However, Prior was still given not out. Previously there have been instances when umpires have stood by their decision if the ball is brushing or clipping the stumps but this was just bizarre. The Lankans would have rued that moment as Prior has made a difference in the innings. It could be due to the FIFA World Cup fever, but everyone chose to play the incident down. However, it raises serious question on how much the eventual decision depends on the umpire’s original call.
Root binds the innings together: Joe Root has once again shown that he is one to watch out for in years to come. He walked in at a precarious stage with England on 74 for three. He showed good temperament and was timing the ball well. Root’s technique too was never in question throughout the day. Except for one adventurous sweep shot against Herath, he dealt with the Lankan bowlers with ease. This ton will once again give him a lot of confidence with more matches to come this season. Root seems to have some liking for Lord’s, as this is his second consecutive ton at the Home of Cricket.
Prior’s brisk knock and change in technique: It would have been a different situation if England were defensive and ended the day with 250-odd losing five wickets, but Prior was as usual brisk with his scoring. That made a big difference at the end of the day. Unlike last winter, Prior kept his bat in the air to have enough time to play his shots and it did seem to make a difference.
What next for England: After the wicket lost its green tinge a bit, it was a good pitch to bat on and always looked like a 400-run wicket. England will look to reach that first and then consolidate if the batsmen continue strongly. It must be noted that England were looking more comfortable as the Lankan pace attack isn’t as threatening as the Aussie one. And no one had the Mitch moustache either!
(Abhijit Banare is a reporter at CricketCountry. He is an avid quizzer and loves to analyse and dig out interesting facts which allows him to learn something new every day. Apart from cricket he also likes to keep a sharp eye on Indian politics, and can be followed on Twitter and blog)
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