England v Sri Lanka, 1st Test, Cardiff, 5th day May 30, 2011

England's amazing heist

Plays of the Day from the 5th day of the 1st Test between England and Sri Lanka at Sophia Gardens in Cardiff
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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.

Andrew Miller is UK editor of ESPNcricinfo

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • mohsin9975 on June 2, 2011, 15:39 GMT

    @cricsamrat if u r serious its d greatest joke ever.England invented a win out of nowhere.The english created this game nd quite fittingly making each game interesting they r involved in. By the look of their lineup,they will claim the no.1 test spot frm india in their next series. They hav wicket taking fast bowlers-by fast i mean seriously fast- and d current best spinner which make matches involving england irresistible.They also hau a thinking captain,sound opening pair and current best no.3 .A well rounded team to win in all conditions.I think they look no1 nd shd b in a few months frm now.This coming frm an indian cricfan

  • skepticaloptimist on June 1, 2011, 12:37 GMT

    haha, I need to get my bottoms sticks because I literally laughed my bottoms off after reading cricsamraat's statement. Yeah, fifth day wickets are hard to play on, but they are not that bad. SL batsmen have only themselves to blame. They'll surely learn from their mistakes and apply themselves better in the next game. Anyway, don't take credit away from the English who played like champs

  • Arrik1433 on May 31, 2011, 16:34 GMT

    @CricSamraat lolz lolz lolz, someone please pick me up and i am rolling and dying laughing after reading his comment :D :D

  • dazthomas on May 31, 2011, 11:56 GMT

    @CricSamraat - yes a broken pitch is obviously to blame... Trott - 200, Cook and Bell 100 each! Stupid! Sri Lanka managed to take a pitiful 5 wickets in total (including James Anderson injured) against england's 20 wickets. Shows the mismatch really doesn't it. Sri Lanka have a lot of work to do to be even vaguely competitive.

  • Charindra on May 31, 2011, 5:35 GMT

    Ok, SL fans (of which I am one) please don't make excuses. We batted horribly, and they bowled pretty well. Let's hope we can come back in the next game. And England fans (and anybody else commenting here) please stop using this performance to discredit SL performances in the past. SL has not had enough opportunities overseas to prove their abilities in the past 16 years. And wait till the end of the series before you say anything.

  • TeamRocker on May 31, 2011, 5:07 GMT

    @CricSamraat- "Sri Lanka was batting on a broken pitch". What on earth do you mean? We saw how much Trott, Cook and Bell struggled on the same "broken pitch!"

  • SriramNatarajan on May 31, 2011, 4:29 GMT

    @CricSamraat: Why whining? SL gift-wrapped victory to England.. that too in less than 2 sessions!

  • NumberXI on May 31, 2011, 3:08 GMT

    Stuart Law was probably attempting some strange psychological games when he declared that SL would have to play at their best to beat or match the "best side in Test cricket" - the only ones he managed to rile were lots of Indian readers on Cricinfo. For their part, his team lived up to their manager's description of their opposition and promptly crashed, rather limply at that, to an innings defeat. Wonder what Law will offer his team to pick themselves off the floor now!

  • landl47 on May 31, 2011, 2:41 GMT

    Strauss seems to have the knack in test matches of making the right decision even when it looks wrong. Sending Bell and Morgan out for a couple of overs looked like wasting time, but it turned out that England were fired up by the move and the Sri Lankan openers were unsettled by having to rush in and pad up so soon. Then at the end of the innings, taking Tremlett off and putting on Broad was a great decision, even though Tremlett had bowled so well; Broad bowls a better bouncer than Tremlett and Perera couldn't handle the short ball at all (he's got 4 days to learn, because he'll be getting a lot of them in the second test). Strauss is going to be remembered as one of the great England captains.

  • dummy4fb on May 31, 2011, 0:43 GMT

    @CricSamraat

    Without a doubt the silliest comment I've ever seen on here. Trott and Bell didn't seem to have much trouble on the pitch? Cardiff is a flat track. Sri Lanka just failed utterly. No excuses, please.

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