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December 22, 2007
Catch of the day
Mahela Jayawardene's low pluck at short midwicket to remove Kevin Pietersen. He didn't have to move so it was routine in most senses, but it travelled like a bullet and had been tossed a mile in the air almost before anyone had registered what had happened. Pietersen trudged off ruing the vagaries of fortune. For the first time in his career, he's failed to make a fifty in a completed Test series.
Over of the day
At every critical juncture of this series, England have faltered and Sri Lanka have surged. So it proved in a thrilling over before lunch, when the menace of Muttiah Muralitharan combined with the fear of the English batsmen to produce a catastrophic implosion. Pietersen's dismissal had created a ripple of disquiet, but when Paul Collingwood was confounded by the doosra and stumped by two feet, a precipice opened up beneath England's innings and poor Ravi Bopara stumbled straight in. A panicky edge, a stuttered attempt at a run, a thrilling pounce, a despairing backflip, a gleeful whip of the bails. Suddenly England were embracing oblivion for the second innings running.
Drop of the day
Prasanna Jayawardene has been a picture of anonymity in the field, which for a wicketkeeper can only be a good thing - Matt Prior can only dream of the day he's not got a mention in the morning papers. Even so, he produced something of a blooper in the second over of the morning, when Alastair Cook had added just one run to his overnight 53. The ball was fired down the leg-side, and brushed the face of the bat as Cook shaped to glance. But Jayawardene missed his moment, and England's survival prospects lived on.
Innings of the day
England hadn't gone through an entire Test series without at least one centurion since they were overturned by New Zealand in 1999. That result, coincidentally, left England rock-bottom in the world rankings, so symbolically it was rather important that someone - anyone - stood up to be counted today. The honour eventually went to Cook, who doesn't turn 23 until Christmas Day. Yet has now racked up seven centuries in his young career, which equals Javed Miandad at the same age. Only Bradman and Tendulkar, with eight, have managed more. That's some illustrious company.
Self-publicising numpty of the day
Yesterday, a banner appeared on the fort which caught the attention of the England team - Cook included, who commented on it after the match. Today, clearly chuffed by the amount of publicity his little stunt had generated, the same chap turned his sheet around, and scrawled: "15 days of torture - thanks for nothing England". Pillock. If you're that bored of the cricket, go and sit on the beach. Or walk around the fort. Or lounge on a shady verandah. Or go home to damp, freezing Blighty.
Stat of the day
Ryan Sidebottom (253 balls) faced more deliveries in the series than Pietersen (250). There are England's shortcomings in a nutshell.
A look back at five high-profile exhibition matches