Honours even in Colombo

Matt Prior and Ryan Sidebottom combined for an important 74 run partnership when Sri Lanka had England wobbling on 272-7. Prior continuing from where he left off in Kandy made an impressive 79 while Sidebottom’s innings was more about durability and survival to offer Prior handy support, the swing bowler made 17 but lasted 81 balls.

Finally, England were bowled out for a competitive 351, and Sidebottom was quickly back in the action, removing Upul Tharanga and Kumar Sangakkara before Michael Vandort and Mahela Jayawardene began rebuilding and their third wicket partnership of 83 saw the hosts to 105-2 at the close of play.

Paul Collingwood reached his half century with his first delivery of the day but failed to add too many runs before being trapped lbw to clever bowling from Chaminda Vaas, who brought the ball back into him and wrapped him in front of the stumps.

Debutant Stuart Broad was quick to follow in the same mode of dismissal, this time it was Lasith Malinga winning the umpires decision.

England were now looking doubtful to edge over the 300 run mark, but Sidebottom’s stoic defence and Prior’s quite brilliant array of drives ensured a testing first innings total was attained.

Muttiah Muralitharan was naturally to have his say, and in removing Sidebottom, Prior and the returning Steve Harmison first ball, he had claimed his 62nd five wicket haul, quite an achievement for the record wicket taker in history.

Prior was last man out and understandably was attempting to force the play when he top edged a slog sweep from the mercurial spinner who took the catch off his own bowling.

So with 351 on the board England would have known a few early strikes may well turn this game into their advantage, and so it happened initially as Sidebottom struck, firstly removing Tharanga thanks to a fantastic one handed diving catch by the man who can currently do no wrong, Matt Prior. A rare failure for Sangakkara followed when he edged another good delivery from Sidebottom with Prior snaffling his second victim of the innings once more demonstrating safe hands.

Vandort and Jayawardene then went about neutralising the threat of then English attack, both Broad and Harmision were economical if not the potent threat England would have hoped. The same can be said of Monty Panesar, yet you can be sure the only specialist spinner in the England team will get a fair workout in this Test.

Vandort reached his half century with his last ball of the day, tucking the ball into the legside and offering hope for Sri Lanka of surpassing the England total tomorrow, but to achieve that they need their middle order to fire tomorrow.

England 351 all out (126.2 overs)
Michael Vaughan 87, Alistair Cook 81, Matt Prior 79, Paul Collingwood 52
Muttiah Muralitharan 5-116, Lasith Malinga 3-78

Sri Lanka 105-2 (38 overs)
Michael Vandort 50*, Mahela Jayawardene 43*
Ryan Sidebottom 2-35

Sri Lanka trail by 246 runs

Leave a comment

Comments are moderated, and will not appear until they have been approved

More articles by Paul Wood