May 16, 2002

England tamed by Atapattu and Jayawardene

Sri Lanka confounded their detractors by establishing a commanding position at Lord's on the opening day of their three-match Test series against England. Under bright spring sunshine and on a wicket which played more truly than had been expected so early in the season, the tourists fully justified the decision of their captain, Sanath Jayasuriya, to bat first on winning the toss. At the close Sri Lanka were 314 for three, with both Marvan Atapattu and Mahela Jayawardene reaching centuries.

As expected, England omitted Alex Tudor from their final eleven, including Dominic Cork, who is listed at number nine in a team that is well stocked with batting. Sri Lanka opted for an all-seam attack, including Charitha Buddika in the final eleven rather than their off-spinning all-rounder, Thilan Samaraweera.

Andy Caddick and Matthew Hoggard shared the new ball for England, and Jayasuriya announced himself in the second over with a cover-driven boundary off Hoggard. Two consecutive fours followed in the sixth over as Hoggard dropped short, first off a thickish edge to third man, then through cover point. It took a run out to split the opening pair, after Jayasuriya was desperately close to lbw in Caddick's fourth over. He pushed Hoggard behind square on the off side and called for a tight second. Michael Vaughan's excellent throw found him just a couple of inches short of his ground.

Caddick made way for Cork at the nursery end after 10 overs, and he had a confident lbw appeal against Atapattu turned down. At the other end Hoggard made England's second breakthrough as Sangakkara edged a lifting delivery to second slip, where Flintoff took a straightforward catch.

It was to be England's last breakthrough until midway through the final session. Mahela Jayawardene got off the mark with a streaky boundary off Hoggard, following up with a more convincing clip through mid-wicket as the Yorkshireman strayed fractionally to leg. Atapattu combined watchful defence with attack, and Sri Lanka's hundred came up at a healthy rate, off 153 balls in the 25th over, swiftly followed by the 50 partnership.

England were within a camera frame of breaking through in the first over after lunch. Atapattu called for a sharp single as Jayawardene pushed Hoggard wide of gully, from where Vaughan pounced, turned and threw down the stumps. The third umpire, Jeremy Lloyds, ruled in the batsman's favour after none of the TV replays was quite conclusive. Atapattu reached his half-century in fortuitous circumstances, edging Cork along the ground to second slip where Flintoff couldn't stop the ball cleanly. Jayawardene continued to flourish, striking Flintoff for two sumptuous strokes either side of the wicket, the first of which brought up his 50.

Jayawardene called for a runner after he was hit on the hip by Flintoff, who had switched to around the wicket to try and restrict the scoring rate. England's need for a wicket was emphasised by the introduction of Mark Butcher, whom Atapattu took for three boundaries from the last over before tea. Shortly after the interval Atapattu hooked Hoggard to the long-leg boundary to reach his century (177 balls, 13 fours). It was the fourth hundred scored by a Sri Lankan batsman in a Lord's Test.

Jayawardene promptly reached the fifth, square-cutting a loosener through cover point on Flintoff's return. By now Michael Vaughan was bowling his off-spin and being pulled disdainfully through mid-wicket by Jayawardene, to post the 200 partnership. Hussain must have been yearning for the absent Ashley Giles. The carnival ended rather tamely, when Jayawardene clipped Flintoff to short mid-wicket, where Trescothick held a straightforward catch. Jayawardene had made 107 (168 balls, 17 fours).

The breakthrough meant an immediate recall for Caddick, whom the new batsman, Arivinda de Silva drove through extra cover for his first boundary. As Vaughan switched to the nursery end, containment was once again the aim as Atapattu and de Silva moved sedately forward. When Caddick made way for Cork, an upper cut to the third man boundary by de Silva resulted. England took the new ball after 83 overs, and Cork was summarily dispatched through extra cover by Atapattu. Hoggard and Flintoff returned for a spirited but unavailing final burst, and there is much work still to be done by England's bowlers tomorrow.