Wednesday, March 28, 2012

The Galle Test: Sri Lanka v England, Day 3

And so, to day 3 of the Galle Test, where England continue their phenomenally bad form against anyone who can spin a ball. Part of me imagines someone like Swann walking into the changing room and saying hello, only to find that the top order are cowered in a corner, desperately playing air sweep shots in an attempt to try and keep him away from them.

Enough about what goes on inside my head. Day 3 began with Sri Lanka at the crease and 5 wickets down already. They were looking to build on their 209 run lead and give England a target that would probably make them go into said corner and whimper without having faced a ball. England, meanwhile, were hoping to pick up the remaining 5 wickets quickly and chase down a total of around 250.

Here's what happened on an intriguing and close day 3 in Galle:

Chandimal's intent was clear the previous evening and he takes on Monty again.
Here hitting him over the top for a four. Getting Chandimal will be crucial to England and they will hope his wicket comes soon. 
And it does. Soon Chandimal takes on Monty again...
Only to find it heading towards Pietersen at mid off...
Who takes the catch. 
Chandimal goes for 31. Sri Lanka are 114-6 and England will hope that the floodgates are open.
The nightwatchman of Randiv is next to depart. He plays a bat pad shot to Swann, but it looks to have hit pad first.
England appeal the LBW chance and Randiv is given out.
He decides to review, perhaps hoping that the ball it too high or has pitched outside leg.
DRS shows that the ball is clipping the top of middle, that it was indeed pad before bat and that Randiv is on his way. 115-7. A bit anticlimactically thanks to DRS, Swanny has a 5fer and has the critics eating their words.
England's left arm spin tormentor of Herath comes in ... and out as he decides to go for an agricultural swing. He's bowled by Swann and it's 127-8.
England are searching for a quick end to the Sri Lankan innings, but Prasanna Jayawardene and his partner Welegedara are proving difficult to get rid of. Swann tosses one up...
And allows Jayawardene to hit it through the covers to the boundary.
Sri Lanka lose no more wickets and go into lunch 151-8, a lead of 276. The 9th wicket partnership between Jayawardene and Welegedara is one of concern to England and they will hope that Sri Lanka's lead will not grow any bigger after the break.
With the partnership up to 40, it's time for a wicket and it comes courtesy of Welegedara's edge off Monty.
Strauss takes a good catch to his right and Welegedara goes for 13.
Sri Lanka are 167-9, a lead of 292.
The innings seemingly comes to an end when Broad is brought back. In the second over of his new spell, Prasanna top edges one.
Broad calls for it...
And takes a good catch.
Sri Lanka are seemingly all out for 167 and England will be chasing a target of less than 300. But Broad has been pushing the front line all match, having gone over 7 times in all, and Rod Ducker decides to check with the third umpire.
And he's right to do so. Broad has bowled his 8th no-ball and Jayawardene is off the hook. England will hope that it doesn't prove a costly no-ball and Monty is glad that somebody else can join him on the fielding naughty step.
Jayawardene takes full advantage of his reprieve. 
He hits Monty over the top for a boundary...
And then he follows it up with a 6. The lead extends to over 300 and England are looking hot and bothered in the field.
And Jayawardene continues to rub salt into Broad's wound.
He hits him for a 6 after Broad bangs one in short (feels like we've all been here before).
It brings up Prasanna's half century and what a way to reach it.
Even Quackmal gets in on the act. Monty is his victim as he sweeps with conviction...
And it goes to the boundary for 4. The 10th wicket partnership is nearing 50 and England's frustration grows.
Luckily, this is the match for silly cricket and Jayawardene becomes the next victim. With the new ball taken, the probably completely and utterly shattered James Anderson comes back on to bowl.
Jayawardene clips one into the leg side and Pietersen is there in the field. Jayawardene decides to push for two...
Pietersen throws it in...
And Anderson does the rest.
The umpire goes upstairs for a review, but Quackmal is gone. 
Sri Lanka are all out for 214. Broad's no-ball and a missed run chance with Sri Lanka on 185 and pushing for two, have cost England the grand total of 47 runs. England require 340 and optimism is in short supply once the statistics are plastered across the screen.
England come back out after the innings break and Cook is able to get off a pair thanks to some kind bowling from Quackmal.
Short and wide, Cook's able to cut it to the boundary for 4 and him and England are off the mark. Only another 84 of those and England are cruising.
England survive the tea break with no casualty. Strauss and Cook walk in for their afternoon pond water with England are 27-0. Sri Lanka haven't started off well, with a couple of misfields and some poor bowling with the new ball.
But once England return, Herath returns to torment England again. Cook, looking to turn one around the corner, ends up seemingly edging it behind.
Prasanna Jayawardene takes the catch...
And Sri Lanka appeal. Their appeals fall on deaf ears. Cook averts his gaze like he's got an inappropriate crush on the umpire.
Mahela reviews straight away. Sri Lanka manage to congregate on the pitch. 
And Cook is given out. The DRS debate starts up again. Bruce Oxenford (I'm all out of puns for now, you'll be delighted to know) is the third umpire and he decides there is enough evidence to overturn the decision. There is no Hotspot available this series and Cook is sent on his way. England are 31-1 and it is Herath once again. 
If ever there were a time for England to stand up and not be incompetent against spin, it's this Test. Trott doesn't help matters by deciding to make sure everyone in my street is awake as I shout loudly at the TV. He, like Cook, tries to turn one round the corner...
Only to get a leading edge, which flies over the head of the 4'11'' Herath (this was probably the hardest duck photo I've ever taken. Cool story, Hannah, tell it again). Good job it wasn't Suliemann Benn. 
And Trott escapes.
Strauss, in the small passages of play thus far, has been using his feet to Herath and using them well. He has the right idea to come down the pitch to Herath again. He shows positive intent in looking to play a shot over the top.
Only the execution is so awful that it's still imprinted on my retinas about 8 hours later. It flies straight to Dilshan at midwicket and Strauss is gone.
It is another failure for the England captain. He has not scored a century since the second innings at Brisbane in 2010. England are 48-2 and are in a whole heap of trouble. They need either a partnership, an English Jayawardene or the heavens to open on Galle.
Trott, usually one for a situation like this when he's not headbutting wicketkeepers, looks about as natural as an elephant in a fridge when he occasionally plays the sweep shot so he decides to continue with his plan to clip it into the leg side. He does so here with a punch through the leg side, which ends up going for 4.
Not content with Trott having settled, KP decides it's time to make sure the streets surrounding mine are awake as well. He gets an inside edge onto his pad and it loops up to Sangakkara at leg slip...
Luckily for Pietersen and England, Sangakkara fails to cling onto the chance. Loud swearing is heard. I'm awful to watch England bat with.
KP punches one through the off side allowing England to come through for a single.

And bring up England's first 50 partnership of the match. It is only their fourth of this dismal winter, with at least one of these two players having featured in three out of four of them. 
Pietersen also decides to use his feet against Herath. He dances down the wicket and rather than doing a Trott in the first innings, managed to make contact and play a lovely shot...
... for 4 through the leg side.
The unbroken partnership of 63 between Trott and Pietersen allows England to close on 111-2. The match, having been tipped to finish on the third day after the events on day 2, is going into a 4th day. Sri Lanka require 8 wickets, England require 229 runs and there's rain forecast in the afternoon.
Day 4 at Galle promises to be one of great intrigue, and excitement, as well. Can England reach the target of 340, smashing the record books to a pulp and probably causing everyone check whether their alarm clocks really went off and they're not just lying in bed dreaming? Or will they collapse, as is the England in Asia way, to a dismal total, handing Sri Lanka a 1-0 lead and probably kissing goodbye to the number 1 status that they worked so hard to gain?

Swann seems to believe England will make history and will chase this total down. It's going to be a nervy one and will require patience (unfortunately Pietersen's middle name is 'Peter' rather than 'Patience'. Shame his parents didn't go down the same route as his favourite commentator), rotation of the strike and someone to be a thorn in the Sri Lankan's side.

It'll be a fun one. Sorry, neighbours.

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