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Plays of the Day from the 2nd day of the 1st Test between England and Sri Lanka at Cardiff
May 27, 2011
Scalp of the day
Mahela Jayawardene's 34th birthday was not the happiest affair. The omens were promising when he resumed on 4 not out overnight, having gauged the pace of the wicket in a 24-ball evening stay, but sadly for him, he encountered the version of James Anderson who spent 2010 putting the wind up all-comers. He couldn't lay a bat on a succession of well-directed outswingers, but then fell victim to the classic Anderson variation. His 11th delivery of the morning nipped the other way, Jayawardene fenced with hard hands, and Andrew Strauss at slip gave England their breakthrough without an addition to the overnight score.
Tilt of the day
Since their early run-ins with the review system in South Africa, England have slowly but surely come to grips with the use of technology, and the removal of Kumar Sangakkara on day one pointed to a more judicious use of appeals - which in essence, according to Anderson, boiled down to ignoring Graeme Swann's over-zealous approach. Mind you, they still haven't quite brought Stuart Broad to heel either. His desperation to bring up his 100th Test wicket led, in the 84th over, to one of the less advised referrals of recent times, as Farveez Maharoof was struck on the back pad, but well outside the line. And eight balls later, all restraint had been dispatched. Anderson again rapped The Roof on the pads, and though his appeal had more merit, the marginal call remained with the umpire.
Tip of the day
Among other things, Paul Collingwood's retirement leaves England light on back-up seamers - the type of job-a-day trundlers who can plough a furrow for three- and four-over spells and give relief to the frontline men on days when wickets refuse to come in a hurry. Jonathan Trott's wobblers are some way short of matching Colly's cutters for class, but with the second ball of his second spell before tea, he nevertheless engineered the breakthrough, as Prasanna Jayawardene drove firmly down the pitch, and Maharoof's stay was ended in the cruellest of fashions, via a fingertip deflection onto the non-striker's stumps. At 278 for 6, and with concerns about Anderson's back strain, it was more than just a bonus for England, it was vital.
Absentee of the day
And yet, in the course of the Ashes, England's weakest batting link had justified his presence with the effortless brilliance of his fielding. Collingwood's tally of 83 runs in five Tests was offset by nine crucial catches, none more spectacular than the one-handed snaffle of Ricky Ponting in Perth. But in the first fielding display of the post-Collingwood era, England showed what a difference a safe pair can make. On 19, Thisara Perera was dropped at a wide third slip by Alastair Cook, a spectacular effort maybe, but a place that his predecessor made his own. And then, five overs later, with Strauss standing at slip to the spin of Swann, Prasanna Jayawardene also earned a key reprieve in a former Collingwood position. Not since the loss of Marcus Trescothick has England's cordon been quite so shaken up.
Painful moment of the day
Chris Tremlett harried the batsmen with the lift he was getting even off the slow track. The most pain he caused on the day wasn't through bouncers though. Tharanga Paranavitana was struck, as the TMS commentator called it, "right in the bullseye" looking to defend a length ball off the front foot. Paranavitana went down on his knees, before getting up and hobbling towards square leg and jumping up and down on the spot as he tried to regain composure. The 12th man raced out with drinks, though it didn't help Paranavitana much. The physio followed, and after a few stretches, the batsman was ready to continue the fight, which only lasted five more minutes.
Milestone of the day
Stuart Broad has had a long wait to get the final wicket that took his Test tally to three digits. His 99th wicket came in early December during the second Ashes Test, and the next one remained out of reach for a long time in Cardiff as well. There were several ripping deliveries that nearly took the outside edge, there were several close lbw calls - which Broad started celebrating in his follow-through before turning to the umpire and appealing as an afterthought - but he reached the 100 runs conceded mark before getting the elusive wicket. His 100th dismissal finally came half an hour past tea, getting debutant Thisara Perera to chip a catch to mid-on.
Arrival of the day
England's response with the bat could hardly have been plainer sailing until Strauss, on 20, was shocked by a lifter and spliced a low edge to Jayawardene at slip. With five balls of the day remaining, a nightwatchman was the likely response, but the appearance of Anderson was unexpected to say the least. He is set to undergo a scan on a back and side strain, amid speculation that his series could be over. But he did what he had to do, on a ground at which he is used to defiance with the bat. Meanwhile at the other end, Alastair Cook leaned insouciantly on his bat and awaited the close. On 24 not out, England's Ashes hero had settled back into the role of innings anchor.
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