Gough and Caddick inspire England fightback after Jayawardene century
After a glorious morning in which they plucked out four Sri Lankan batsmen, a chastening afternoon in which the locals scored at four runs per over, Darren Gough and Andrew Caddick led an inspired English fight-back as the sun slipped beneath the hills to bowl out Sri Lanka and leave the match evenly poised after an entertaining day of Test cricket.
Caddick and Giles - something to celebrate
Gough, his passion stirred by stinging criticism in the media after his outburst in Kurunegala, forced Marvan Atapattu to play on to his stumps in the morning, but it was with his fourth spell of the day that he kept English hopes alive.
His legs pumping like pistons and his cheeks puffed in determination, he charged into bowl to claim three wickets as Sri Lanka lost five wickets for 20 runs to finish on 297 all out. England batted out the remaining two overs before the close without alarm.
Sri Lanka had established a position of dominance thanks to a fifth Test century by a 23-year-old batsmen with prodigious talent, Mahela Jayawardene, and an obdurate half-century by Russel Arnold. The pair added 141 for the fifth wicket and looked to have repaired the early morning damage when they had slipped to 80 for four.
Nasser Hussain threw the new ball to Gough in the 80th over of the innings. Arnold slapped his first ball to the square boundary and tried to repeat the shot next ball but only found White in the gully. In his next over Kumar Dharmasena was brilliantly caught by Thorpe at third slip for one and in his third over Atherton snapped up Tillakaratne Dilshan for 36.
From the Hanthana End, Caddick played his part too. He had been miserly all day and had bowled a particularly impressive third spell with the soft ball, in which he dismissed Mahela Jayawardene, television replays contentiously denied him Arnold's wicket, and Tillakaratne Dilshan survived a close lbw shout. In his fourth spell, however, he was rewarded with the wickets of Chaminda Vaas and Nuwan Zoysa to finish with four deserved wickets.
Dav Whatmore said afterwards: "It is of course disappointing to be bowled out for 297 when we were 216 for four at tea. It is probably not far from par though as long as we bowl well tomorrow. It will be an interesting day tomorrow as the wicket will still be good, but Murali will turn it and get some bounce."
They reached par thanks to the efforts of Jayawardene and Arnold, who came together at the fall of the fourth wicket. The pair vowed to each other that they would play positively and reaped dividends for their adventure. Ashley Giles and Robert Croft were soon forced out of the attack and the fast bowlers were severely punished whenever their length erred, as the pair added 75 runs in the first hour after lunch.
Jayawardene's three-hour 101 was further confirmation of what a fine player he is. The modest man was earmarked as a player of huge potential from the day he swapped his shorts for flannels to play for a strong Nalanda College First XI at the tender age of 14. He made 66 on his debut against India when he was just 20 and has already scored five Test centuries.
He was angry afterwards for having let his concentration waver two balls after reaching his hundred: "I was really disappointed because I am used to making big hundreds. We should have made more and I am sure that the coach will have something to say later. Nevertheless, 300 was a good score on this wicket last time we played here as the wicket gets slower and slower and the run-making gets harder."
Earlier in the day Nasser Hussain lost his eighth toss in nine Test Matches and Sanath Jayasuriya had no hesitation in batting first. Roared on by 2,000 English supporters in the colourful ground, Gough bowled Atapattu in his fourth over and Sanath Jayasuriya skewed Caddick straight to point to leave Sri Lanka 29 for two.
Kumar Sangakkara and Aravinda de Silva then counter-attacked with style, adding 40 runs in just 29 balls before Sangakkara was caught in the gully off his arm guard. Although he departed without murmur, a casual glance at his guard was enough to warrant a "severe reprimand" from Hanumant Singh, the match referee.
De Silva continued to bat freely, scoring 29 from just 33 balls, and was particularly harsh on Ashley Giles, whom he hit for two boundaries in his first over and one mighty six over long off. But he became Craig White's second wicket when he top-edged a pull.