Sri Lanka Team were toppling as runs flowed against England despite wickets at regular intervals © Getty Images
Sri Lanka Team were toppling as runs flowed against England despite wickets at regular intervals © Getty Images

England once again emerged as the dominating team at the end of the Day 1 of the second Test between Sri Lanka and England at Chester-le-street.  England got off to a shaky start before the lunch, losing Alastair Cook and Nick Compton early on in the innings. The pitch was opposite to what everyone expected as it kept low and refused to offer any pace to the bowler. Sri Lanka’s wicket-keeper Dinesh Chandimal had to collect a good length ball from a fast bowler on a bounce. Even after a near perfect start the  Lankan Lions failed to capitalize on England’s shaky start despite  early breakthroughs. LIVE CRICKET SCORECARD: England vs Sri Lanka, 2nd Test at Chester-le-street

Suranga Lakmal drew first blood as Alastair Cook’s en-route his 10,000 Test runs managed to falter on  another bump. He had to depart after scoring 15, Cook is just 5 runs away from being the youngest batsman in the history of cricket to reach this feat. He nicked the ball towards second slip off Lakmal’s out swinging delivery outside off stump. Soon Nick Compton also fell victim to an odd short ball from Nuwan Pradeep. Compton trying to pull only managed to  give the fielder standing at long-leg region a simple catch. ALSO READ: Sri Lanka in England 2016: Why touring parties struggle with the ball?

Sri Lanka had a good start with the ball but failed to convert into a batting collapse for England like they did in the first Test. They allowed opener Alex Hales and Joe Root to take their time and settle. Root and Hales shared a 96-run stand and went on to score 83 and 80 respectively. Hales got out before just Tea break. Rangana Herath remained wicket-less at the end of Day 1.

Herath started off putting the batsmen on the back foot, getting an edge of Hales off first ball. But such was his day, he failed to take that one elusive wicket which would have gotten him a to the 300 wicket mark in Tests and become only the second left arm spinner after Daniel Vettori to reach this mark. Unlike him, youngster Milinda Siriwardana performed well taking two wickets. He picked up the wicket of Hales who was looking dangerous and also lured James Vince into a drive. Vince was looking settled for 35 and Siriwardana made him make a mistake and throw his wicket away.

Sri Lanka’s fielding was spot on today. They took some spectacular catches to support their bowlers. One such catch was of Compton’s, where Lakmal took it on the long leg region, diving towards his left and being  inches away from the boundary. After that skipper Angelo Mathews showed agility in the slip area to remove Hales and stop him from converting his half century into a big score. A spectacular catch by Pradeep at short cover region ensured that Vince takes the long walk back to the pavilion after playing himself in. Not only aerial fielding, but there were several instances of brilliant efforts in the ground fielding as well to curb the flow of runs.

Although, Sri Lankan bowlers kept taking wickets at regular intervals, it never seemed that they were in full control over the innings. The highest partnership for England  was between Hales and Root sharing a 96 run stand. Jonny Bairstow(48) was denied a half century as he found an inside edge to wicket-keeper Chandimal.

Sri Lankan skipper Mathews wasn’t wise in utilizing his reviews. He challenged an umpire’s lbw decisions where most of ball was going down the leg side. He failed to create pressure on the batsmen and let them concede singles and settle their way in.

Despite losing six wickets, England look the better side at the end of Day 1. They have a strong lower order in the form of Stuart Broad. Moeen Ali and Chris Woakes, who all look in fine touch and will pose problems for the visitors on Day 2 of this Test match. Sri Lanka need to utilize the new ball to its full effect in order to wrap up the tail quickly. Otherwise they will be back to the losing this match much like the last match.

(Arun Rawal, a reporter with CricketCountry, is a daydreamer, movie buff, and cricket fanatic. He could not play cricket, so did the next best thing, writing for it. He loves to play the flick shot over square leg, and believes Sachin Tendulkar is God. His twitter handle is @ArunRawal93)