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December 2, 2007
Shot of the day
Ian Bell's response to Dilhara Fernando's first ball of the morning. It was full and straight, and Bell creamed it straight back down the ground, past the non-striker's off stump by a whisker, and all the way to the rope. Last night Matthew Hoggard has spoken of England's desire to hit the ground running in this match. With one shot, Bell showed that England were determined to live up to that promise on a daily basis.
Catch of the day
Chamara Silva's outstanding snaffle at short midwicket. Bell had been batting with determination and poise, but his desire to remain positive in the face of Muttiah Muralitharan's onslaught eventually proved his undoing. It needed a massively alert fielder to take advantage of his miscued drive, however, as the ball squirted in the air off a thick inside-edge and Silva at full stretch to his left ended an excellent innings and carried Murali ever closer to destiny.
Stonewaller of the day
The free-flowing Michael Vaughan is not used to being entrenched while batting... except, of course, when he's playing a Test in Kandy. Three years ago, Vaughan led England's rearguard on this ground with a seven-and-a-half hour 105. Today, he dug in with the determination of a captain with four days in which to capitalise on an outstanding first-innings bowling effort. Muralitharan kept him pinned down at the press-box end of the ground, and by the time he was dismissed (much to his chagrin) for 37, he had occupied the crease for a further two-and-a-half hours.
Over of the day
There was only one bowler who mattered today. A feverish crowd chanted and drummed in appreciation, and Murali did not disappoint, as he reeled his way towards the world record with a mesmeric performance. The zenith came in his 18th over of the day - six deliveries, every one a live hand-grenade. Paul Collingwood fenced a ripper inches short of a sprawling silly point; Ravi Bopara turned one tentatively off his toes and into the hands of short leg, but replays showed he'd just managed to jab it into the turf first. But Murali's eyes were twinkling with anticipation, and sure enough, Bopara's maiden Test innings ended with a leg-side strangle next ball.
Anticlimax of the day
Kandy hasn't known such heights of reverence and worship since the Buddha's tooth was last paraded through town. The world record was at his mercy, as Ryan Sidebottom took guard in preparation for the ordeal he was about to face. Six deliveries were negotiated but none of them comfortably, but then the weather closed in from the surrounding hills, and the quest had to be put on hold for another 24 hours.
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