We passed the test of character
It was a bit of a quiet ending, but it was a decent Test match - a good, tough five days of Test cricket. We didn't lose too many overs to the weather, and more importantly, we put up a good performance after what happened in Cardiff. We showed a lot of determination and skill, and we stayed very positive by going in with the balance of six batsmen and five bowlers, who made some good inroads into the English line-up. We're still in the series which is great, going into the final Test in Hampshire.
The biggest worry for us is the captain, Tillakaratne Dilshan, who took a few blows to his thumb and has picked up a hairline fracture. It would be a massive loss for us if he can't play at the Rose Bowl because he's in great form and his 193 was wonderful to watch. If he's ruled out, that is something we'll need to cope with, but knowing him I reckon he'll be okay to play the match.
After all, the way he batted on after two really painful blows shows what determination he has got. He didn't field yesterday or bat today, but that was only because we didn't want to take any risks with him. We wanted to give him three extra days to settle that sore thumb and see how it comes up.
He'll now have five or six more days to rest and if he's feeling well enough to hold a bat, I know he'll want to play that Test match. If he's not there, it's going to be a big blow, but fingers crossed for him. Like we've always done when things get tough, we'll back the guys to stand up just like they did in this match.
After what happened in Cardiff, it was always going to be a test of character at Lord's, and we came through it really well. We spoke about it at length, because you need to let everything out in the open in the dressing-room, but no fingers were pointed, which was great. Everyone took responsibility and we knew we needed to dig deep and work harder, and we did that at Lord's.
Personally, I thought the conditions in which we had to bat were much tougher than the England boys had, but we showed we could fight against a formidable attack. Today was a tricky situation to bat 60-odd overs, especially without Dilly opening the batting, but everyone buckled down and now we're looking forward to the next game. We need to create our own opportunities, because that's what we're here for.
There was a lot of criticism of England's attack in the first innings, but personally I thought they bowled pretty well. There was a lot of bounce in the wicket and movement as well, but the real difference was Dilly, who was positive and aggressive as usual, which put them under pressure. His opening partnership with Tharanga Paranavitana was excellent once again, and then we built on that as well, which was great. We knew we needed to wear the England bowlers down, and once we'd done that, the scoring opportunities started to appear, as they always do in those situations.
Given that their seamers were all so tall, we knew they'd get bounce, but we handled that pretty well. Our batting line-up is not the worst in the world and we're not going to crumble day in and day out like we did in Cardiff. We just had to bat to a plan and we did. And now, after two Tests we know what they've got, and hopefully they know we can combat that and get 20 wickets ourselves, which is the most important thing.
Our combination for this Test match was pretty handy, I thought. We've got a good amount of variety with the left-arm pace of Chanaka Welegedara, and with Dilhara Fernando coming back after being injured in the first game. We've got the firepower, now we've got to create the opportunities. After reducing England to 22 for 3 on the first morning, we were disappointed that we let them go, and that afternoon session of 160 runs after tea was far too much. We need to handle those situations better next time, and get more disciplined about building pressure when we get them down
On a personal note, it was disappointing to leave Lord's without a third century in as many visits to the ground. I thought I batted really well at times and felt pretty confident, getting back into the groove of things, but England's bowlers are tough opponents, and in four innings I've had three good balls, and that's how the game goes I guess. I played a bad shot this afternoon, but I'm feeling confident. It's not the end of the world and the next challenge is the Test in Hampshire.
Before that game, we've got a three-day match against Essex in Chelmsford, when we'll bring a couple of new batsmen into the line-up to give them a hit. We'll probably rest some of the bowlers who had a big workload in this game as well. The guys have been playing a lot in the last three or four months, so a good break might help them.
But we have always enjoyed touring England. The atmosphere in the crowds is great, and I like their enthusiasm for pure cricket. It's also nice to be able to travel by bus rather than getting on endless flights. All of those things come into play and help us enjoy the experience. The weather has been good in London as well, and hopefully that will also be the case in Hampshire too.
But whatever happens, we'll always believe in ourselves. That is why we have been very consistent in the last ten years, whether it's Tests, ODIs or Twenty20s. We play with a lot of passion, we hate losing matches, and we've got a chance to come back into the series which is a great opportunity. We're 1-0 down, so we need to be positive and go for the kill. It's all to play for, and we're looking forward to it.
Mahela Jayawardene is former captain of Sri Lanka