Sam Robson is 98 not out © Getty Images
Jun 21, 2014
Sam Robson‘s 98 not out and another important fifty by Gary Ballance has strengthened England’s position in the match as they sit pretty at 211 for the loss of just two wickets at the end of the second session on Day Two of the second Test. Both the batsmen played good Test cricket in the first two sessions of the day, scoring fifties and stitching a valuable 100-plus partnership, which has helped England further cut down the first innings deficit.
Earlier in the day, resuming their innings at the overnight score of 36 for no loss, Alastair Cook and Robson started off well, rotating the strike and also hitting a couple of boundaries. But the partnership didn’t last long on Day Two morning as Cook went hard at a wide delivery outside off from Dhammika Prasad, got the edge which was safely pouched by Kumar Sangakkara at third slip.
Cook’s wicket brought centurion from last match, Gary Ballance to the centre. Both Ballance and Robson stitched a fifty-plus partnership in the first session, and looked assured in the middle. Robson was the more stroke-making of the two, and also brought up his first fifty in Test cricket.
Then, resuming after lunch, the two batsmen carried off from where they left off in the first session. Ballance opened up more as the boundaries started to come off his bat. Robson, on the other end, was cautious and calculated at the other end as slowly progressed towards a hundred in his debut series. Ballance though survived a close call early in this session when he was trapped on the pads by Rangana Herath. It was a loud appeal, the umpire was convinced and raised his finger. But Ballance reviewed the decision, and replays showed that he was justified in doing so. That ball was spinning past the leg stump.
Ballance then went on to score another fifty. The two batsmen also brought up the 100-run partnership over the course of the session. While Robson stitched a flawless innings, Ballance again survived when he was dropped in his 60s by Kaushal Silva at short-leg. But he couldn’t ride his luck and score consecutive hundreds as he fell to Sri Lankan captain, Angelo Mathews just half an hour before tea. Mathews bowled a gentle seam up delivery which angled across Ballance, and the left-hander poked at it to hand an easy catch to Dinesh Chandimal.
Ballance’s dismissal brought Ian Bell to the centre, who is playing his 100th Test for England. Bell and Robson then saw off the session without any further hiccups.
Sri Lanka 257 (Kumar Sangakkara 79, Dinesh Chandimal 45; Liam Punkett 5 for 64, Stuart Broad 3 for 46) lead England 211 for 2 (Sam Robson 98*, Gary Ballance 74; Angelo Mathews 1 for 20) by 46 runs.