Monday, March 26, 2012

The Galle Test: Sri Lanka v England, Day 1

After a disastrous tour of the United Arab Emirates, next up for England was a trip to one of the toughest places to tour, Sri Lanka. England will return in September for the Twenty20 World Cup, but for now, in the heat and humidity of Galle, Sri Lanka and England play one of those annoying two Test series.

England, still number one after the Middle East humiliation thanks to the weather of New Zealand, include three spinners in their line up, handing a Test debut to Samit Patel at the expense of Eoin Morgan. Sri Lanka have Mahela Jayawardene back at the helm and after having played so much limited overs cricket for the past three months, it'll be interesting to see how their players adapt back to the longer format.

In the scenic ground of the Galle International Stadium ("expertly recreated" in my back garden), the scene of England's horrendous 81 all out back in 2007. By mentioning that, I've probably tempted some horrific fate for when England bat, but that's a matter for a different day. Here's day one in Galle, in the format that made a delivery man look weirdly at me as he appeared in my back garden.
Note: For the "eagle eyed" amongst you, you may have noticed that the Sri Lanka ducks have changed. That's because I have more of them, so I thought I'd change it about a bit. Anyway, that's just a side note. You probably didn't notice, nor do you even care, so I'll end this note awkwardly and get on with it.
Sri Lanka win the toss and decide to bat. It's not joyous news for England's bowlers, as it's hot and humid in Galle. The English fans enjoy the sunshine in true tourist style.
Thirimanne and Dilshan open the batting for Sri Lanka. Jimmy takes the new ball for England...
After 5 dot balls, Jimmy thinks he's struck on the final ball of the first over.
England appeal, but the umpire is not convinced by the appeals.
Strauss decides to review the decision, but the replays show that the umpire was correct. The ball is shown to be marginally pitching outside the leg stump, always a danger when a bowler is coming over to a left hander, and was too high. Thirimanne survives and England have lost a review in the first over of the Test match.
Dilshan gets Sri Lanka off the mark off the bowling of Stuart Broad.
He hits the pitched up delivery through the leg side and Monty is able to stop it from going to the boundary. Sri Lanka off the mark with a 3.
He also hits the first boundary of the series. Seemingly still in ODI mode (or he's just Tillakaratne Dilshan), he manages to slash one for four down to third man.
Which, like for much of the 2011 summer, was empty. 
Jimmy needn't chunter about the wasted DRS referral for much longer, as Thirimanne edges into the slips with a prod outside off...
Where he's caught by Swann. Sri Lanka are 11-1, Thirimanne goes for 3. 
Jimmy celebrates as Thirimanne walks back to the pavilion. 
Sangakarra is next in...
But he edges behind and is caught by Prior for a golden duck.
England are naturally ecstatic, Sri Lanka are 11-2 and Jimmy is on a hat-trick. 

Jayawardene, with an average of 77.28 at the Galle International Stadium, faces the hat-trick ball...
And survives with a defensive block of a slightly underwhelming hat-trick delivery.
Somewhat inevitably, Dilshan departs.
He's caught at first slip by Strauss off the bowling of Broad. Sri Lanka are 15-3 .
Samaraweera joins his captain and it takes him 31 deliveries to get his first run. It takes him a further 10 or so deliveries to get his 2nd, but after that he goes a bit "run crazy". Panesar and Swann come into the attack, as England only have two seamers playing, and Samaraweera manages to hit a lovely drive through the covers...
And to the boundary for his first four.
Mahela and Samaraweera survive until the lunch break and they go into it 66-3. Their unbroken partnership of 51 is helping Sri Lanka to rebuild. If England don't managed to break it quickly after the break, then it could be a torrid afternoon session.
After the lunch time bread is digested, the teams return to the field and England soon get a huge dollop of Lady Luck. An innocuous push from Jayawardene...
...Jimmy gets a wing on it.
And it goes into the stumps. 
England appeal and celebrate as Samaraweera is sprawled on the ground. He looks short of his ground and the umpire sends it up to the TV replay...
And he's gone. Sri Lanka are 67-4 and Chandimal is next in.
Chandimal decides to get off the mark in a style befitting the modern era of cricket...
And smashes it over deep mid wicket and into the stands for a six. Take that, Samaraweera.
Mahela continues to help rebuild the Sri Lankan innings.
He hits a 4 off Monty...
Which causes him to raises his bat to acknowledge his half century. He's playing magnificently.
Chandimal, perhaps showing inexperience, plays a horrible slog...
Which goes in the air in a direction he did not intend. Samit Patel watches with bated breath...
As Ian Bell takes the catch to hand the man from Nottinghamshire his maiden Test wicket.
Chandimal departs for 27 and Sri Lanka are 128-5.
Broad returns to the attack and seems to be struggling with his sprained ankle. He strays down the leg side and Mahela, naturally, punishes him...
By hitting him to the fine leg boundary for 4, despite Trott's best efforts.
The tea break arrives. The two Jayawardenes are unbeaten and Sri Lanka are on 168-5. Mahela Jayawardene is 80 not out.
Prasanna Jayawardene does not survive much longer after the interval. Anderson strikes him on the pads...
England appeal and Prasanna Jayawardene is given out LBW.
Jayawardene goes for the referral...
But Hawkeye has umpire's call so Prasanna is on his way. England used up both their reviews in the morning session, Sri Lanka have one left. Sri Lanka are 170-6.
Mahela continues to play a beautiful and vast array of shots. His favoured shot of the day is the late cut...
Here going for 4 off, the probably getting slightly frustrated, Graeme Swann.
The only danger to Jayawardene at the moment is him running his own partners out. 

He hits one straight to Strauss, but both seem to think there's a single there. Randiv tries to get back into his ground...
But Captain Strauss is having none of it and hits the stumps with Randiv just about short of his ground.
Randiv is run out for 12 and Sri Lanka find themselves 191-7 with much of the hope of the innings resting on their captain. 
Having been "dropped" in an incredibly tough caught and bowled chance, Anderson finds his mood take a stereotypically grumpy turn as Jaywardene dispatches his next ball...
Into the stands for a 6. It leaves him on 96 and four away from a richly deserved century. 
And he gets it. A paddle sweep down to fine leg brings the four required...
And the celebrations start. Where those around him have crumbled, Mahela has stood firm. Suitable for a ground surrounded by a fort, really.
Swann is probably not enjoying reading his figures, as Jayawardene continues where Pakistan left off and attack him.
He hits him for another low risk six into the stands.
Jayawardene is playing a sublime innings. A 50 partnership comes up between him and Herath, but he has scored the majority of the runs.
He hits Broad up in the air...
And it bounces twice before crashing into the boundary rope. 
Herath gives Patel a chance for his 2nd Test wicket. 
He's given out LBW as the ball strikes him on the pads, seemingly in front of the stumps.
Sri Lanka have one review left...
And Herath decides to use it.
But once again, it is umpire's call and Herath is on his way. He is gone for 5 and Patel has 2-27. Sri Lanka are 253-8.
England, given the harsh conditions, have bowled and fielded relatively well. But the wheels begin to come off as the sun begins to go down in Galle. Jayawardene top edges a Jimmy delivery...
And the ball sails to fine leg...
Only to go straight through Monty's hands and to the boundary for a four.
Monty's misdemeanour brings up Jayawardene's 150. He then drops him again off the bowling of Broad a few balls later. It's been 5 minutes to forget for poor old Monty, whose one handed catch of Eddie Cowan  in a match against Australia A in the Ashes in 2010 seems like it was a dream now.
Broad and Anderson gently simmer to themselves in the fading light and the last ball of the day is blocked out by Mahela Jayawardene.
He walks off 168 not out and leaves England to rue the missed chances. Sri Lanka close on 289-8.
It has been a superb innings though and one that I am pleased that I was able to watch. He thoroughly deserved his century and hopefully the English batsmen were watching him carefully, for someone in the side will need to replicate Jayawardene's antics if they are to get into a strong position in this game again.
Awful pun of the day: Jayawardene is a galling setback for England. Yeah, I won't be giving up the degree for comedy any time soon. Join me tomorrow, where I may live duck blog on my living room floor just to annoy continuity fans. 

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