England dominate day 1

After only day one of this test match, it already looks like Sri Lanka will need to pull of another great escape to avoid defeat.

Mahela Jayawardene’s decision to bat upon winning toss looked to have been better than Ricky Ponting’s decision to bowl, but things didn’t exactly go as the Sri Lankan captain planned.

The pitch looked good, but England’s Matthew Hoggard and Liam Plunkett got everything they could of it to decimate Sri Lanka’s top order. First to go was Upul Tharanga, beaten by Hoggard’s swing which found the gap between his bat and pad.

Fellow opener Michael Vandort fared little better. He was Plunkett’s first victim of the morning, in only his first over. The Durham youngster was brought on after Flintoff decided that the conditions would be better suited to him that to himself. Plunkett’s third ball brought a loud appeal for caught behind, but it was correctly turned down by Aleem Dar. His next ball would have been very hard to turn down, a thick edge from Vandort gave a catch to a diving Paul Collingwood at gully.

Plunkett followed this up with the prize wicket of Jayawardene, a fantastic delivery which moved away just enough to catch the edge. Sri Lanka’s next batsman, Thilan Samaraweera didn’t require any spectacular deliveries to remove him. He offered a drive to a wider one from Hoggard, and Collingwood took his second catch of the morning.

After offering more resistance than the rest of the top order, Sangakkara soon joined them in the pavilion. He made 25, but after cutting Plunkett to the boundary, the seamer hit back and he was caught behind the next ball.

As lunch neared, Farveez Maharoof was dropped twice, but didn’t capitalise on these and was caught at slip off Sajid Mahmood. Sri Lanka were 65-6 at lunch, a truly abysmal display.

Things weren’t to get any better after the interval, Tillakaratne Dilshan’s 27 ended when an expansive drive found the safe hands of Marcus Trescothick at slip. Nuwan Kulasekera was heroic in saving the match at Lord’s but did little to help Sri Lanka here, another expansive stroke, another edge to Trescothick.

Like at Lord’s, Sri Lanka needed some runs from the tail. Luckily, Lasith Malinga and Chaminda Vaas were able to provide these. They added 50, Vaas was impressive but Malinga rode his luck somewhat as well as playing a couple of good shots.

It was Monty Panesar who ended the partnership, a slightly quicker one resulting in Malinga’s lbw, who he had dropped earlier. A typically wreckless swipe from Muttiah Muralitharan was safely taken, and the innings was over on 141, nowhere near enough on this pitch.

With plenty of time to get runs, England’s openers began steadily. Trescothick and Andrew Strauss added 56 before Muralitharan made the first breakthrough, Trescothick well caught behind.

Having got in and with the opportunity of a big score, a slow response to Alistair Cook’s call led to Strauss’ run out, a sharp direct hit from Samaraweera. Cook himself fell shortly before the close, beaten by Murali’s doosra.

England ended on 138-3, just three runs behind Sri Lanka. Kevin Pietersen is on 30, and could well hit another hundred tomorrow, and Sri Lanka will further rue their abysmal batting display.

Sri Lanka 141 all out
Chaminda Vaas 30*, Tillakaratne Dilshan 27, Lasith Malinga 26
Liam Plunkett 3-43, Sajid Mahmood 2-25, Andrew Flintoff 2-28

England 138-3
Kevin Pietersen 30*, Andrew Strauss 30, Marcus Trescothick 27
Muttiah Muralitharan 2-24

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