Joe Root (batting in picture) compiled a fine century for England © Getty Images
By Bharath Ramaraj
Jun 12, 2014
At the end of first day’s play of the Test match played between England and Sri Lanka at Lord’s, the home team have made 344 for the loss of five wickets. It was Joe Root, who made a fine century and held the innings together by showing good defence. Once set, he looked to come forward and that helped him to keep Sri Lanka’s pacers, who were were bowling a full length to him at bay. He also stitched fine partnerships with Moeen Ali, the debutant and Matt Prior, the experienced wicketkeeper-batsman. Prior even went onto make a half-century.
Priro though, did survive a close lbw decision off Rangana Herath’s bowling. It was given not out initially by Paul Reiffel, the umpire. However, the decision was reviewed by Sri Lanka and it was decided that it was an umpire’s call with Prior ever so marginally outside the line of his off-stump. Finally, England will be happy with the position they are in, especially after they lost early wickets.
Earlier, 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 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, 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. 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 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.
Actually, 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.
England 344 for 5 (Joe Root 102*, Moeen Ali 48, Matt Prior 76*; Nuwan Pradeep 2 for 67) vs Sri Lanka.
(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)