Moeen Ali (batting in picture) looked in fine touch for England © Getty Images
Moeen Ali (batting in picture) looked in fine touch for England © Getty Images


By Bharath Ramaraj


Jun 12, 2014


England at the end of second session of the first day’s play of the first Test at Lord’s against Sri Lanka are 195 for the loss of four wickets.  Ian Bell looked in complete control of the proceedings during the second session. He used his feet brilliantly to come down the wicket and smash Rangana Herath, the slow left-arm orthodox for a six down the ground. He also played a crunching cover-drive off Shaminda Eranga‘s bowling for a boundary. Bell played very late, especially while facing up to the spinner. At the other end, Joe Root looked to play himself in.


Bell though, lost his wicket to Eranga. The ball nipped back into the right-hander and Bell was out lbw. Paul Reiffel, the umpire played safe and gave it not out. But Sri Lanka went for the review and the decision was overturned. A huge wicket for Sri Lanka to take. It meant that Moeen Ali came into bat at No 6 position on his Test debut. Moeen was tested outside his off-stump and on occasions, he struggled to show good judgement. He though, did play attractive shots on the on-side.


For Sri Lanka, Kulasekara kept it tight from one end, while Nuwan Pradeep and Eranga bowled with decent pace and control. It has to be said though, England have recovered ever so slightly at the end of the second session mainly due to the partnership between Moeen and Root.


Earlier, hosts, lost their first wicket early in the piece. Sam Robson, the Test debutant tried to play a drive to a pitched up delivery and edged it to the wicketkeeper, Prasanna Jayawardene, off Pradeep’s bowling down the slope. Robson got into an awkward position to play that stroke.


He was followed by Alastair Cook trying to play his favourite cut shot and losing his wicket to Kulasekara, the swing merchant. Sri Lanka in sunny conditions bowled good lines and lengths and pitched it up to the batsmen and that led to Cook’s dismissal, who was frustrated by some fine bowling.


Sri Lanka’s opening bowlers also found some swing to keep the batsmen quiet. Kulasekara even changed the angle and bowled from around the wicket to keep the batsmen guessing. It has to be said though, that the batsmen didn’t help their cause by playing back when they should have come forward on a slow deck that offered a bit of help for pacers. Bell  and Gary Ballance, playing in his second Test then, looked to steady the innings for England. When Kulasekara bowled it a touch short, Ballance showed that playing square of the wicket was his strength by essaying a square cut.


Bell then, gave a glimpse of his ability to play with technical perfection when he drove Angelo Mathews down the ground for a sumptuous boundary. Bell also showed measured judgment outside his off-stump with Sri Lanka looking to test his patience. He was the only English batsman, who looked to come forward at every given opportunity. The factor to consider about the partnership was both batsmen played positively and every-time a loose ball was bowled, they cashed in.  Ballance though, lost the plot when he got out to Pradeep with the angle taking away from the left-handed batsman to catch the edge.


It was Sri Lanka who won the toss and chose to bowl what with the track offering a bit of help for the pacers. England on the other hand, picked three debutants; Robson, Chris Jordan and Moeen. This is the first time since 1921 that England have given three players a chance to make their debut in a Test match.


Brief scores:


England 195 for 4 (Ian Bell 46, Joe Root 43* Moeen Ali 43*; Nuwan Pradeep 2 for 44) vs Sri Lanka.


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(Bharath Ramaraj, an MBA in marketing, eats, drinks and sleeps cricket. He has played at school and college-level, and now channelises his passion for the game by writing about it)