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Plays of the day from the 4th day of the 2nd Test between England and Sri Lanka at Lord's
June 6, 2011
Milestone of the day
Steven Finn had been the cause of some concern in the England camp after his lacklustre efforts in the first part of Sri Lanka's innings, but to give the man his due, he's a proven wicket-taker and showed that once again today. Just as at Brisbane in November, when he scooped six wickets after a torrid time at the hands of Hussey and Haddin, so he responded to his beasting from Tillakaratne Dilshan with the respectable innings figures of 4 for 108. He now has exactly 50 wickets to his name, which makes him, at 22 years and 63 days, the youngest England player to reach that mark. Ian Botham was a full 196 days older when he did likewise in 1978, and while the similarities are few and far between, both men share a happy knack of collecting scalps on off-days.
Blow of the day
The wickets had a stimulating effect on Finn, for he grew visibly in confidence as the Sri Lanka tail came into his sights, and his efforts against the tenth-wicket pair of Suranga Lakmal and Chanaka Welegedara were especially hostile. Now restored to his full height, after falling away at the crease against the top order, he served up one searing bouncer that Lakmal had no choice but to wear. The ball didn't just strike the helmet, but crushed one side of it, and after a dazed delay, a replacement had to be called for.
Catch of the day
Andrew Strauss has now taken 100 catches in Test cricket - the 29th fielder to do so in Test history and the sixth Englishman - and fittingly he pulled off a blinder to mark the occasion. With Graeme Swann finding his groove after going wicketless in his first 30 overs, Dilhara Fernando propped forward outside off, and an edge fizzed hard and fast to Strauss's left. With his weight already committed in the opposite direction, he had no choice but to stick out a mitt and pray. Sure enough, his dominant hand was alert to the opportunity, and England moved one step closer to a first-innings lead.
Non-milestone of the day
Mahela Jayawardene was a stealthy presence in Sri Lanka's first innings. Without ever catching the eye in the manner of his captain, Dilshan, he crept along to 40 not out at the close of the third day, and seemed well set to push on to his third Test century in as many visits to Lord's - a record that only India's Dileep Vengsarkar can boast. However, today's resumption in damp conditions was a struggle, and after a streaky four through third man off Finn, Jayawardene was caught in two minds to another off-stump lifter, and fenced to Cook at third slip for 49.
Fail of the day
"There's always one batsman under the microscope," conceded Andrew Strauss on the eve of the Test, and lo and behold, that man might soon be the skipper himself. Kevin Pietersen's struggles against left-arm spin have been documented ad nauseam this series, but Strauss also has a left-arm issue, as shown by Welegedara in the opening over of the second innings. A second-ball outswinger curled into his back pad, and after wasting a review, he was sent on his way for a match total of 4 runs. It was the second time in the match that he'd been bagged by Welegedara, the ninth occasion in 12 months that he'd fallen to a left-arm quick, and the 21st occasion all told in his Test career. Zaheer Khan will be licking his lips come July.
Acclaim of the day
Jonathan Trott doesn't often york himself playing a forcing stroke, so it was something of a shock when he lost his leg stump to Rangana Herath's fourth ball of the second innings. But after the initial disbelieving silence, an excited hubbub spilled out from the crowd, because who else but Kevin Pietersen was coming out to face his nemesis. With two balls of the over still to negotiate, he strode diligently forward to both, and was rewarded for his discipline with loud and ironic cheers.
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