England v Sri Lanka, 2nd Test, Lord's, 1st day June 3, 2011

Middle-order strength gives England control


England 342 for 6 (Prior 73*, Broad 17*) v Sri Lanka
Scorecard and ball-by-ball details

The opening day at Lord's, under glorious sunshine, was not the one-sided affair it might have been but England took the honours by reaching 342 for 6 having been put in and recovered impressively from losing three early wickets. Alastair Cook couldn't quite make it three consecutive Test hundreds, falling for 96, and Eoin Morgan departed for a confident 79, but Matt Prior was unbeaten at the close on a fluent 73.

It could have been so much better for Sri Lanka after they'd had the home side 22 for 3 in the eighth over. They struggled to maintain the pressure even though Suranga Lakmal put in a wholehearted display to claim 3 for 79 and Chanaka Welegedara, the left-armer, made the attack more potent. Cook and Ian Bell started the fight back with a fourth-wicket stand of 108, then Morgan joined to add 71 for the fifth before Cook top-edged a pull four runs short of his sixth hundred in nine Tests.

However, the real shift in momentum occurred while Morgan added 101 in 20 overs with Prior during the long final session as Sri Lanka started flagging. Morgan had been positive from the start, dancing down the pitch and launching Rangana Herath over the top, and later did the same to Tillakaratne Dilshan, but also showed good judgement and a solid defence.

The hallmark of his play was a crispness of footwork and clarity of shot. Such was his presence at the crease it came as a surprise when he fell lbw to the second new-ball after Sri Lanka successfully used the DRS. However, it had been an important innings for Morgan and his first significant Test score since the hundred he made against Pakistan at Trent Bridge. That, too, came when England were in some trouble and the challenge brings the best out of him.

Prior, meanwhile, transformed an uncertain 201 for 5 into a far more stable position. It was a typically positive innings peppered with well-timed off-side shots. His fifty came from just 63 balls, although he was fed some friendly offerings ahead of the new ball, and also when it was taken as he hammered a weary Lakmal for three boundaries in five deliveries. And England's depth was on show again as Stuart Broad, playing his first Test innings since being Peter Siddle's hat-trick victim in Brisbane, finished on 17 in another useful stand.

Ultimately, Sri Lanka will struggle to convincingly argue that bowling first was a success and the general feeling was that Dilshan's decision owed a large amount to the fear of what England's bowlers could do to his shell-shocked batsmen after they were humbled for 82 in Cardiff rather a true belief it was the best thing to do. Yet, after eight overs he looked fully justified when Andrew Strauss, Jonathan Trott and the out-of-form Kevin Pietersen were all back in the pavilion.

Strauss and Trott both fell lbw to Welegedara as both played around straight deliveries. At 18 for 2 it presented the sort of challenge that would normally get Pietersen's juices flowing, but instead it became his second failure of the series as he avoided having to face any left-arm spin when he drove loosely to gully for 2 off Lakmal. It was careless batting against the new ball on a green-tinged pitch that was always going to be at its trickiest in the first session.

England, though, are not easily broken these days and set about rebuilding the innings. It needed a fair degree of luck, especially on Bell's behalf as he kept the slip cordon interested with a series of edges, but enough came out of the middle to show conditions were far from hostile. Cook and Bell both reached their fifties in quick succession, but just as Sri Lanka were starting to look flat Welegedara returned to claim his second when Bell fished outside off and an edge finally carried to first slip.

Welegedara, who was a surprise omission in Cardiff, showed the value of having a left-arm seamer because the change of angle gave the England batsmen something else to contend with. However, while he and Lakmal were wholehearted and incisive, the support was lacking and allowed England to build fresh momentum.

Cook started to find his groove after battling through the morning session and tucked into a poor spell from Dilhara Fernando with a series of pulls and cuts. He seemed destined for his 18th Test century, but was cramped for room when he tried to pull Fernando. The way England's batsmen donated their wickets won't please Andy Flower, but it's also a further sign of the team's confidence when they can be below their best and still find a way to come out on top.

Andrew McGlashan is an assistant editor at ESPNcricinfo

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • Dummy4 on June 4, 2011, 12:15 GMT

    England have rode their luck but after all those edges, why not more slips? Also as pointed out by the commentators the field settings to prior were terrible. Makes the bowlers bowl outside off which is exactly where he wants it. Bad captaincy, hopefully Dilshan will learn but its not a good start. I'd have had more slips but I was unfairly ignored for the post of captain just because I'm not Sri Lankan and can't bat, bowl or field.

  • Nilantha on June 4, 2011, 11:27 GMT

    VERY disappointed with dilshans captaincy so far this morning..proving he is not the rightman for the job...a number of edges going through first slip and he doesnt think to move the slips?Also he keeps going back to Lakmal over and over, who whilst he bowled well, is getting predictable(given that he is only a 21 yr old still elarning his trade)..for goodness sake dilshan, work to our strengths, and use spin...Our fielding has been sub standard this morning and coupled with god batting from Prior(with a bit of luck but we all take it dont we?) it has been englands morning....we need Matthews as captain,with the support of sanga and mahela, as soon as he recovers..

  • Dummy4 on June 4, 2011, 11:25 GMT

    @ Cranaweera - Yep 22-3 mate - and yet I'm watching the same innings and England on 448 for 8 and battering the Sri Lankan attack all over the place.

    As for those top 3 - yeah p[athetic. One averages 66 (in over 20 tests) the other 2 over 45. Yeah pathetic. Now let's have a look at the SL stats again shall we... (oh dear oh dear)

  • Dummy4 on June 4, 2011, 9:48 GMT

    Thats a good start by England , any team batting first would be happy with that .Sri Lanka bowlers played very well in the morning , goes to show if you can swing that ball around a bit you can remove batsmen with ease . But if England can put 4oo or more on the score board , then we will see exactly how good this Sri Lanka batting line up is .Expect a barrage of short pitched bowling and i reckon a certain mr swann is looking forward to a bowl ! .

  • David on June 4, 2011, 9:19 GMT

    land47, I absolutely agree about the appalling shot to which KP got out; indeed, I mentioned it in a post. It was precisely this sort of irresponsibility that I thought demonstrated his mental failings and weaknesses that would make it salutary to drop him. But for all his shortcomings, I do think he has a quite inventive cricketing brain. Probably he will never make a good captain, but, despite evidence to the contrary, I think he might one day grow up. My point was that Strauss, while he will never be as good a batsman, has resilience, and sound judgment, and clearly inspires his team. Let's hope for a good day's play today.

  • Dummy4 on June 4, 2011, 8:59 GMT

    Well done England... You are doing all the right things the mighty Australians did in their pomp... There is no need for dropping anyone in their current setup. But KP should work on his technique before his figures get low. Problem with KP is he is being predictable against left-arm spin. Every great batsmen have had issues like this... But well played England.

  • Martin on June 4, 2011, 8:43 GMT

    @REH223; "Batting is solid but bowling not penetrative". Presuming that you are talking about Sri Lanka - all out for 82 in 24 overs in Cardiff suggests that SL's batting is anything but "Solid". Agree with the other bit.... Sri Lanka have a lot of spirit and they will fight hard - but if you put a team in to bat you are backing your bowlers. This backfired - SL could only take 5 Eng wickets at Cardiff. It was perfectly obvious that they weren't going to do much better at Lord's. Puting England into bat was just about as silly as Hussain putting Aus in @Brisbane in 2002. As at Lord's yesterday; I saw it, but I didn't believe it! Good luck Sri Lanka - let's see a tough fight! PS - if you are at Lord's today - I'm the one with the Wombats!!!

  • Dummy4 on June 4, 2011, 8:34 GMT

    For the next test, SL must consider the inform players considering the match against Essex, irrespective of the history. For the Essex match, SL must disregard the players who performed well in these two tests and must be included in the next test.

  • Martin on June 4, 2011, 7:56 GMT

    @rahulcricindia & @cranaweera; LOL. If you guys think this is a weak England batting line up then you are gravely mistaken. A good team can dig it's way out of 3/22 - and England did just that. And England haven't even started bowling yet... Just wondering if cricinfo will post my comments this time....

  • Dummy4 on June 4, 2011, 7:53 GMT

    Although England recovered from 22/3, that is out of the question for SL. 3 wickets down mean we are down to last recognized pair. Although he scored a hundred in first test Prasanna cannot be regarded as a recognized batsman. There were many negatives for Sri Lankans in the field yesterday. Ground fielding was pathetic, wicket keeper who carries the label as "best wicket keeper in the world" was horrible in his collections, Herath did not know what line and length to ball, Maharoof who was included becuase he could bat a bit hardly looked like taking a wicket or at least beating the bat occasionally. Now since he is relieved of captain's duties Sanga should take up wicket keeping role with the intention of moving down the order a bit later on so that a youngster can be drafted in as a specialist batsman.

  • No featured comments at the moment.