Home > Features >

Joe Root, Moeen Ali and Matt Prior face daunting task on Day 5 against Sri Lanka

The three batsmen are  their team's last hope © Getty Images
From left: Joe Root, Moeen Ali and Matt Prior are their team’s last hopes © Getty Images

Joe Root, Moeen Ali and Matt Prior face a daunting task on Day Five at Headingley against Sri Lanka. They have to break it down into small targets to have any chance of doing the unthinkable, writes Nishad Pai Vaidya.

At 57 for five, in the face of a target over 350, England need something special; in fact, something extraordinary. On this very ground in 1981, Sir Ian Botham fashioned one of the most remarkable comebacks in Test history and it is etched in cricketing folklore ever since. England can take a lot of inspiration from that mythical Houdini Act going into the fifth day of the second Test against Sri Lanka. Three men hold the key: Matt Prior, Moeen Ali and Joe Root.

If England are to have absolutely any chance of getting close to the target, Root is the main gun. He is the man in form, having scored the double ton in the first Test. With that knock behind him, he has a measure of the Sri Lankan bowling. Besides, when compared to the other England batsmen, he has played Rangana Herath — who would be crucial on the Day Five surface — quite well so far. Having said all that, it is a Day Five surface and Root finds himself facing a humongous task. How he approaches it early on would be interesting.

In such situations, batsmen can only take every ball and keep the long term thoughts out of sight. It is important that they break it down into small parts as that makes the task much easier and relieves the pressure. You have to build your innings brick by brick. It may seem daunting, but is the best way to approach it. In that regard, Root is someone who could anchor the innings. With his calm approach, he needs to rebuild, set small targets and approach them positively.

Ali too faces a task in his second Test. He started off well to score 48 in the first innings at Lord’s, and since then has done his bit with the ball as well. Here is where he has to support Root and play his game in achieving those short term goals. Ali seems to be someone who can stay calm and that would complement Root well. In tandem, they have to rebuild and then perhaps think about going for the prize. It is far away in the horizon but they need a start somewhere.

Through that, it may be the perfect platform for Prior to silence the critics. Many questioned his selection for this Test series and suggested that England should look for alternatives after the disastrous Ashes series Down Under. However, Prior is an attacking batsman and can put pressure on the opposition with a good display. It is important for him to repay the selectors faith, and though the mountain is too high to climb, a spirited effort would do no harm.

Meanwhile, Sri Lanka look good for their first series win in England (excluding the one-off Test victory in 1998). They have their plans in place and two men would be on the frontline: Dhammika Prasad and Herath. This duo would want to get rid of the three recognized batsmen soon to put their country on their way to victory.

(Nishad Pai Vaidya is a Correspondent with CricketCountry and anchor for the site’s YouTube Channel. His Twitter handle is @nishad_45)

West Indies in South Africa, 2014-15

Dec 17, 2014 (14:00 IST)   at Centurion

India tour of Australia, 2014-15

Dec 17, 2014 (05:29 IST)   at Woolloongabba, Brisbane

Pakistan vs New Zealand in UAE, 2014

Dec 19, 2014 (16:30 IST)   at Abu Dhabi

West Indies in South Africa, 2014-15

Dec 26, 2014 (14:00 IST)   at Port Elizabeth

Sri Lanka tour of New Zealand, 2014-15

Dec 26, 2014 (03:30 IST)   at Christchurch

More

Pakistan vs New Zealand in UAE, 2014

Dec 17, 2014  at Abu Dhabi

New Zealand won by 7 runs

England tour of Sri Lanka, 2014

Dec 16, 2014  at Colombo

Sri Lanka won by 87 runs

Pakistan vs New Zealand in UAE, 2014

Dec 14, 2014  at Sharjah

Pakistan won by 147 runs

England tour of Sri Lanka, 2014

Dec 13, 2014  at Pallekele

Sri Lanka won by 90 runs

Pakistan vs New Zealand in UAE, 2014

Dec 12, 2014  at Sharjah

New Zealand won by 4 wkts

Photos

India vs Australia, 2nd Test at Brisbane

Videos

Josh Hazlewood looks back at his 5-wicket haul

South Africa vs West Indies,1st Test, Day 2 at Centurion: South Africa declare at 552 for 5

Australia 221/4 at stumps against India on Day 2 of 2nd Test at Brisbane

India vs Australia 2nd Test at Brisbane: Maiden wickets, an elusive ton, and other highlights from Day 1

Murali Vijay, Ajinkya Rahane guide India to 311/4 against Australia on Day 1 of 1st Test at Brisbane

Australia India Interviews Ishant Sharma Moments in history Ravichandran Ashwin South Africa

South Africa vs West Indies 1st Test, at Centurion: Rain forces early end to Day 2

Sachin Tendulkar satisfied with India’s progress in other sports

India vs Australia 2014-15, 2nd Test at Brisbane: India failed to capitalise on good start, says Sunil Gavaskar

West Indies tour of South Africa 2014: Assad Fudadin ruled out of Test series due to finger injury

Zimbabwe remove Stephen Mangongo as team’s Head Coach

South Africa vs West Indies 2014, 1st Test at Centurion: Hashim Amla’s double-century and other statistics

India vs Australia 2nd Test at Brisbane, Day 2: India’s familiar collapse, Umesh Yadav’s heroics and other highlights

Keki Tarapore – India’s manager on the successful West Indies tour of 1971

Shane Watson at No. 3? Australia may want to reconsider

Murali Vijay continues to make impressive progress against Australia

Fan of the Day

Suraj Gowda

Suraj Gowda

653 Posts | 10 Fans

India vs Australia: Murali Vijay's 144, Video highlights

प्रसिद्ध कथक नृत्यांगना सितारा देवी नहीं रही

More broadband connections to boost GDP growth in Asia Pacific: GSMA

India is becoming our largest overseas market, Xiaomi CEO Lei Jun says

Bigg Boss 8: Ali Quli Mirza, Renee Dhyani, Upen Patel, Praneet Bhatt, Sonali Raut – who should be evicted this week?

Revealed: The reason why Kishore Kumar’s biopic starring Ranbir Kapoor won’t feature Katrina Kaif!

अभिनेत्री प्रियंका चोपड़ा ने स्वच्छ भारत अभियान में हिस्सा लिया

Also on cricketcountry.com

Play Fantasy Cricket & Win

Cash Daily! Click here