Sri Lanka v England 2007-08 / News

Sri Lanka v England, 1st Test, Kandy, 4th day

Drop-kicking Bell over the monastery

Andrew Miller in Kandy

December 4, 2007

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An unstoppable force © AFP
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Batsman of the day
Before this match, Kumar Sangakkara was rated as the third-best batsman in Test cricket, but if you took his efforts in this past year in isolation, there'd be no contest. Since surrendering the gloves to his team-mate Prasanna Jayawardene, he's been unstoppable, racking up 1529 runs in 14 innings, at the staggering average of 152.90. He's made seven centuries in that time, including a career-best 287, and of those times he's reached three figures, he hasn't been dismissed for less than today's 152. The Asgiriya, incidentally, is where he played all his cricket as a schoolboy at Trinity College. It's fair to say he's familiar with the conditions.

Intruder of the day
As the afternoon wore on and England's ordeal became all the more acute, any break from the grind - however fleeting - was gratefully received by the fielders. Cue the arrival of the Asgiriya's favourite mutt, who padded onto the pitch from the direction of the Barmy Army enclosure (a coincidence?) and held up play for three precious minutes while he ambled from long-on to fine leg. Steve Harmison met him at the boundary's edge in front of the pavilion, but thought better of doing a Merv Hughes and carrying him off the pitch. Every second counts when your side is up against it.

Intruder of the day Mk 2
Another interruption, though perhaps less gratefully received by the players on this occasion. Monty Panesar was just about to trot in for his 41st over of the innings, when every single person on the field - including the batsmen and both umpires - flung themselves to the deck, as if the cry "doodlebug!" had gone up. The cause of the panic was a swarm of bees, mostly milling around by the sightscreen at the Hunnasgiriya End of the ground. Speculation mounted that it was a plague on Murali, as dispatched by Shane Warne, but they buzzed off soon enough.

Band of the day
There wasn't actually any competition for this one. Murali's personal skiffle band had serenaded the crowd so joyfully throughout the first three days, but today, with the record back where it belongs, they decided their work was done. So it was left to the Barmy Army to provide the atmospherics. They did their best in trying circumstances, but you couldn't help but notice that both the trumpeter and the chanting sounded a little flat by comparison.



The drop-kicking Sidebottom © Getty Images
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Drop(-kick) of the day
Ian Bell could be excused for his first miss of the match, a fringe-singeing flyer at slip that came in the midst of Sanath Jayasuriya's 24-run over on Monday. There were no such mitigating circumstances this time around, however. For the first time in his innings, Sangakkara was looking genuinely edgy, having fallen in the nineties twice before against England. On 98, he fenced outside off and steered a sitter to Bell's right at slip. But the chance was muffed, and a furious Ryan Sidebottom booted an imaginary Bell clean over the monastery.

Surprise of the day
Paul Collingwood's shock dismissal of Prasanna Jayawardene. England hadn't looked like rattling the timbers for two days and 124 overs, so it was quite rightly assumed to be some sort of mistake when Collingwood swung one in from outside off stump, straight through the gate and into the top of the off bail. The umpires conferred, wondering perhaps whether the ball had ricocheted off Matt Prior's pads. But no, it was all bona fide. Twelve deliveries later, and perhaps still reeling from the shock, Sangakkara clipped tamely to midwicket to give Colly his second of the innings.

Cheer of the day
It wasn't quite an ovation of Murali proportions, and there might even have been a tinge of irony involved. But when Alastair Cook tucked the first ball of England's innings off his hips for four, he escaped the dreaded pair and gave the England supporters their most uplifting moment of the day. It couldn't last, however. Three balls later, he poked uncertainly outside off, and the Sri Lankan voices were once again the loudest in the ground.

Andrew Miller is UK editor of Cricinfo

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© ESPN Sports Media Ltd.

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Andrew Miller Andrew Miller was saved from a life of drudgery in the City when his car caught fire on the way to an interview. He took this as a sign and fled to Pakistan where he witnessed England's historic victory in the twilight at Karachi (or thought he did, at any rate - it was too dark to tell). He then joined Wisden Online in 2001, and soon graduated from put-upon photocopier to a writer with a penchant for comment and cricket on the subcontinent. In addition to Pakistan, he has covered England tours in Sri Lanka, Bangladesh, South Africa, Australia and New Zealand, as well as the World Cup in the Caribbean in 2007
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