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Plays of the Day from the 5th day of the 1st Test between England and Sri Lanka at Sophia Gardens in Cardiff
May 30, 2011
Declaration of the day
The usual pattern played out at Cardiff this morning. Miserable weather wrote off most of the first two sessions, and when a 3pm start was announced, the only question of any immediate relevance was whether England would seek to declare overnight, or continue their innings to allow Ian Bell to reach his 12th Test century, and second in consecutive innings. As it happens, Andrew Strauss proved more sympathetic to his team-mate than Mike Atherton had been at Sydney in 1994-95, when Graeme Hick had been left high and dry on 98 not out. It took seven deliveries spread across 20 minutes, and just for a moment, while Sri Lanka's collapse was gathering pace, Strauss must have wondered if he'd end up ruing his decision. Not a bit of it.
Flurry of the day
In the first 20 overs of their innings, Sri Lanka floundered to 52 for 8, with Thisara Perera and Ajantha Mendis at the crease, and only Suranga Lakmal remaining to stave off defeat. With the best part of 30 overs still to go, their only real option was to wipe off the first-innings deficit of 97, and hope that England's pursuit ran out of steam. Sure enough, the pair snaffled five boundaries in the space of 12 balls - four of them through the covers, and a further four byes courtesy of a loose leg-side spear from Graeme Swann. At 72 for 8, they trailed by a mere 24, and a few more volleys of the type that Perera produced in the World Cup final could have made life interesting.
Swipe of the day
Sri Lanka were already tottering when Rangana Herath came out to bat. They had just lost five wickets for 10 runs and were staring at an innings defeat, but nothing was going to come in the way of Herath playing his natural game. He had come out all guns blazing in the first innings, and it was no different this time as well. The second ball he faced was heaved towards midwicket for three, and he aimed the next one in the same direction. It was an arm ball from Swann, and the lack of turn beat Herath, who was struck just in line with the stumps to be lbw, to the horror of non-striker Perera.
Collision of the day
Chris Tremlett was England's aggressor with the new ball, but Stuart Broad is not a man who likes being kept from the action. Having sized up Perera's confidence on the front foot, he decided to put him back in his box with a brace of surging lifters, the second of which so nearly resulted in the breakthrough. Perera swatted at a throat ball with the confidence of an apiphobic armed with a newspaper, and a top-edge spooned up to short midwicket. Ian Bell under the lid hurtled backwards to collect, but was clattered as he stretched by the incoming substitute, Stewart Walters, and went down clutching his head. Fortunately it was nothing but a momentary ringing in the ears.
Catch of the day
Bell, it soon transpired, was utterly unaffected by that collision. Though Alastair Cook has been stationed at Boot Hill in recent years, there are few better operators in a close catching position in world cricket, and Bell soon had a chance to demonstrate his skills. Perera once again rocked back to pull, but Bell watched the shot all the way off the bat, and quickly realised it had not been properly middled. He flung himself forward to scoop the ball off the turf, and two balls later, the game was all over as Broad capped a feisty effort with 2 for 21.
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