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Sri Lanka v England, 1st Test, Kandy, 2nd day
David Lloyd: Sri Lanka firm favourites
December 2, 2007
Muttiah Muralitharan equals Shane Warne on a damp day in Kandy as Sri Lanka claw their way back in the match
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Andrew Miller: Today Muttiah Muralitharan equalled Shane Warne's world record of 708 wickets, and it looked that he is going to overhaul it - but then the rain came down, a real anti-climax for everyone here.

David Lloyd: So disappointing, the match itself was boiling up nicely with Murali having a massive influence on the game. England really needed a healthy lead, but it doesn't look that it is going to happen as the tail is in - eight, nine, ten and all, Ryan Sidebottom and company, in truth all number elevens. Murali, all eyes on him, he has equalled the record - 708, and it is just the question now that who would it be - his world record breaking 709. as we look now, the rain is falling heavily.

One of our commentators Raynel Abhinayake, who is a local chap, he says that the north east monsoon has not arrived as yet. He said that it is the start of it and you will see weather patterns for the next five days, which will see cloud building up in the morning and you will get rain in the afternoon, and if you are lucky then it will may come early evening at five o'clock or five thirty, maybe six o'clock. If you are unlucky then it would be same time at two thirty, so it really is fingers crossed with respect to this spectacular rain.

AM: This morning it was it was far cry from all this - nice sunny weather and a very different situation for England. They started in a very healthy position, and Ian Bell, particularly, started pretty well - nice cover driven four first up, and he played a very fine innings.

DL: He did, he played very well, and he has got fifty in his last three Test match innings. Of course he would be disappointed that he did not go on to make a century, and it looked to be a tame dismissal - chipped to the short mid-wicket fielder. But he had played beautifully, he really did. He was in a great touch and it's strange that in a game like this where the ball has really dominated, and the game is quite advanced - [Kumar] Sangakkara and Bell are the only two batsmen who have looked comfortable on the pitch.

AM: One man who had a pretty torrid innings by the look of it, was the captain, Michael Vaughan - he hung around for two and half hours, made 37 and eventually got out, by his opinion as he left the crease, might have been a bit marginal decision. A tough innings that?

DL: Yes, it looked a determined innings to me and he certainly wasn't fluent in any way, but he certainly looked determined to stay with Bell. They actually put a good partnership of 107. It wasn't Michael Vaughan at his very best, but he stuck in there - and that's the best to describe his innings, he just stuck in. When he was dismissed he looked dismayed, an inside edge adjudged onto the pad and bounced out into the off-side. Sri Lanka have been excellent around the bat, they are very threatening around the bat. Vaughan, I thought, was very fortunate yesterday, and this sort of sorts themselves out these decisions. Yesterday, he got one that perhaps went his way - a big appeal for lbw from [Lasith] Malinga, and today, if I was out there in the middle I would have said not out. These are very demanding situation for the umpires, and these two are excellent. It is a really good move to get two sub-continent umpires, who know the conditions, they know all about the spin and dusty dry pitches. So, inevitably you will get debate points on umpiring decisions, but these two are excellent.

AM: Bell, as we mentioned, was England's only half centurion, but Kevin Pietersen was looking pretty potent during his knock today.

DL: I thought he played well working out the pace of the pitch. We all know that Kevin Pietersen would prefer the pitch that has got pace and bounce, but he played with an assurance. Again, there is a pattern I think of umpiring decisions - Murali dragged him forward, and we are talking about a six foot three guy, has a big stride in - when you look at it, when you see it time and time again, it's a good decision, it's going to hit the stumps. All I would say it that if England spectators are thinking that he is way down the pitch there - Monty Panesar gets the same decisions when he is bowling left-arm spin then even he does get decisions going his way. I think it's a pattern with the umpires - no matter if there is big stride, if we think that it is going to hit the stumps then we are going to give the decision.

AM: Well, after two days play it is 188 against 186 for 6 - would England have taken this position at the start of the play?

DL: No, I think England were looking to scarp and scrape to 280, and maybe 300 if they played really well. I think Sri Lanka are very firm favourites for this game. We will see Sri Lanka, weather permitting, batting much better in the second innings. What we have seen so far that Murali, we cannot score against him, has bowled so many overs, negligible runs against him, and it's just a question of how many wickets he will take in this game.

England needed a lead of 100, I would have thought, and I don't think they are going to get that, therefore Sri Lanka must be favourites for the game.

Comments: 4 
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Posted by Chinthaka on (December 3, 2007, 7:16 GMT)

If Sri Lanka's batsmen fire, they have a great chance! Sad to see Jayasuriya go, but I'm sure Sri Lanka will find some young talent. Also Murali would get lots of wickets in the second ininngs if he plays like this so Sri Lanka have a great chance. 710! Legend!

Posted by Christopher on (December 3, 2007, 1:08 GMT)

I wonder why it is that the England Batsmen cannot hit??? I mean their best so called batter (KP) only gets a good knock every 3rd or fourth game, far and few in-between. I donot buy into that the Sri Lankans are on home soil either! If we ever want to dontend with the Aussie we need to stop making excuses for lack-luster performances and hit the ball. We had the perfect oppurtunity to seal this match in the 1st innings and as usual we folded up and tucked our tail between our legs. If the shoe-in selections cannot make consistent performances with the bat which is why they're in the side then they should fall into the same selection lottery as the bowlers period.

Posted by Prince on (December 2, 2007, 17:43 GMT)

England must be positive to succeed against Murali.Over & over again we have seen English batsmen freezing with tension & amazement whenever Murali(or any top class spinner) comes to bowl.The batting coach,Andy Flower,himself a master against spin,must tell the batsmen that they would go nowhere if they turn defensive against him.I think Kevin Pietersen & Michael Vaughan,their best players against spin,should step up to accept this challenge.This will also result in the odd failure,but England has no alternative.

Posted by Umar on (December 2, 2007, 16:57 GMT)

Seem like Rain have emotions and saying that Murli let celebrate in advance and after me You may continue your millstone.

It was not exactly the struggling day for Bell and Vaughan they were playing pretty nice but luck is with Murli's way and it was well saw when Vaughan given a strange out.

Anyway i appreciate Bell who really played well against Murli. But Murli very much focus and know very well how to deceive and disturb well set batsmen. Full point to Murli.

Lloyd i totally agree with you about the comfortable batsmen; Bell and Sangerkara but I felt Vaughan too comfortable playing Murlie.

As far as result concern; i dont think result would be out in +ive form. Further forecast of rain may force result into draw.

Hope for the best and Murli for 709*.

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