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Plays of the day from the 3rd day of the 3rd Test between England and Sri Lanka at the Rose Bowl
June 18, 2011
Delay of the day
Everything about the day's play seemed geared towards an utter shemozzle. As a foretaste of things to come, 20 minutes were lost to showers before the start of play, then a further 35 as the players lined up to resume after lunch. A mere 13 balls were then possible before another half-hour interruption, but the big one was still to come. Somehow, between 3.11pm and 5.20pm, not a single delivery was bowled, despite the weather clearing up on at least three passable occasions. At 3.30pm, the decision was taken to resume at 4; at 4pm, the rains rolled back across the ground. At 4.10pm, they relented sufficiently to allow to covers to come off, but at that precise moment, the umpires decided to take a 20-minute tea break. At 4.30pm, the scheduled resumption, the rain returned once again.
Breakthrough of the day
Way, way back in the mists of time, before the day degenerated into a farcical tango of rain breaks and tea breaks, a frustrated England seamer finally nudged his name into the wickets column. "Carry on bouncing" had been the message from his bowling coach, David Saker, after Stuart Broad's first 18 overs of the match had gone unrewarded, but it was the full ball that did the trick - as it often has in the course of his 37-Test career. The No. 11 Suranga Lakmal is not the most precious scalp he will ever pick up, but Broad was a visibly relieved man when a loose drive nestled in Eoin Morgan's hands at cover.
Fail of the day
After a limp prod outside off and a regulation snick to first slip, Andrew Strauss smacked the back of his bat in anger before traipsing disconsolately from the crease. His reaction was understandable after his third consecutive single-figure score had taken his series tally to 27 in four innings. But it was exacerbated by the identity of the wicket-taker. For the third innings in a row, Chanaka Welegedara's left-arm line had done for England's captain, who has now fallen to that form of bowling on 23 occasions in his Test career. Strauss knows full well that, with Zaheer Khan looming next month, he has just helped stoke a debate that will rage all the way to Lord's and beyond.
Shot of the day
Frustration sometimes has fatal consequences for Kevin Pietersen, but every so often, the cork-in-a-bottle effect brings out the very best in his strokeplay. After sitting and waiting for days on end in the Ashes, he marked his arrival in Adelaide with a career-best 227, and today he was similarly thrilled to get his chance in the middle. No shot better summed up his mindset than his spanking drive off the first ball he received from the left-arm spinner Rangana Herath. Facing his bogey bowling with two balls until lunch, KP declined the chance to block his way to the break. Instead he galloped down the track and mowed a drive to the cover boundary.
Shock of the day
There was a time in England, not so long ago, when Alastair Cook's vulnerability outside off stump was a cause for national concern. Onlookers lost count of the number of times he flinched and flirted during his tortuous run of form against Bangladesh and Pakistan last summer, and today he was at it again, as he poked Dilhara Fernando to Thilan Samaraweera in the gully. Right now, however, the circumstances are entirely different. Cook already had 55 to his name, and was looking good for his seventh century in his last ten Tests. It was a shock to be reminded that he ever had such a weakness.
Superheroes of the day
As a rule, pitch invaders are not to be encouraged, but when no-one else could provide any entertainment during the afternoon lock-down, the appearance of Batman and Robin raised the biggest cheers of the day from a staggeringly patient crowd. Moments earlier another caped crusader - a cross between Superman and Captain America - had tested the water with an apologetic amble at deep midwicket, but no sooner had he surrendered to the authorities, the Dynamic Duo were on the loose. Though Robin was swiftly apprehended, Batman skipped and jinked through several half-hearted tackles, before ending his spree by shaking the hand of his nearest pursuer, and marching off to await his fate. "If they're not going to play cricket, we're going to run on the pitch," Robin told ESPN's Two Chucks afterwards. "Because it's boring!" Well quite.
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