Despite looking toothless for large intervals against the class of Kumar Sangakkara and Mahela Jayawardene, England bowlers clawed their way back on the last day © Getty Images
By R Vishal
Jun 19, 2014
After a humdinger of a Test match on the eve of the 200th anniversary at the Mecca of cricket, Lords, England will look to gain that little extra at Edgbaston that saw them within a hair’s breadth of an incredible win against Sri Lanka.
There were several positives for both sides during the first Test. Joe Root’s double century was the biggest talking point though. For the hosts, apart from Root, Matt Prior came back to form with a fluent knock and Gary Ballance may have cemented his place in the side with a gutsy hundred.
Despite looking toothless for large intervals against the class of Kumar Sangakkara and Mahela Jayawardene, the bowlers clawed their way back on the last day. In what was an incredible final session, James Anderson was at his vintage best, as was Stuart Broad. Chris Jordan had a rather good outing on his debut as well, while Liam Plunkett looked adequate on his return. The gaping void is obviously that of a world-class spinner in the English ranks. Alastair Cook would have also learnt his lesson and would go for an early declaration to give his bowlers a better shot at running through the opponents.
Sri Lanka’s problems largely lies in their bowling attack. Shaminda Eranga and Nuwan Pradeep were dealt with easily by the batsmen, but they managed to get a measure of the pair eventually, which propelled England to post a humongous first innings score. Veterans Sangakkara and Jayawardene predictably looked absolutely comfortable, and skipper Angelo Mathews further built on his rising stock as a batsman with a cracking ton.
As far as bowling is concerned, the island nation have been guilty of overburdening Rangana Herath despite getting four wickets in the second essay. In English conditions, the spin master didn’t get as much turn as he would have liked and almost let his team down by walking off at a critical juncture in the Test when replays showed that he wasn’t out. Overall though, England will be riding on the momentum of tantalisingly close to a win.
England (probable): Alastair Cook (c), Sam Robson, Gary Ballance, Ian Bell, Joe Root, Moeen Ali, Matt Prior (wk), Chris Jordan, Stuart Broad, Liam Plunkett, James Anderson.
Sri Lanka (probable): Dimuth Karunaratne, Kaushal Silva, Kumar Sangakkara, Mahela Jayawardene, Lahiru Thirimanne, Angelo Mathews (c), Dinesh Chandimal (wk), Nuwan Kulasekara, Rangana Herath, Shaminda Eranga, Nuwan Pradeep, Suranga Lakmal.
(R Vishal is a journalist and alumnus of Asian College of Journalism. He can be followed on Twitter@vishhell)