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December 11, 2007
Shot of the day
Mahela Jayawardene rather likes batting at the SSC (see below). His innings today was both chanceless and remorseless, as he set his side up for a stab at their third consecutive Test victory over England. He's played here long enough to know that the runs will come without forcing the issue, but on 146, he decided to have a dart anyway. Two steps down the track and an elegant swat sent Monty Panesar sailing onto the grass bank at long-off.
Ball of the day
There wasn't a lot of encouragement for England's bowlers, but Kevin Pietersen - of all people - found something to write home about in an improbably probing spell of offspin from the South End. Using his height well, he extracted both turn and bounce and in the 78th over, he beat Michael Vandort with a sizzler that bit the rough outside the left-hander's leg stump and fizzed past the edge for Matt Prior to gather well at chest height. Today's encouragement will be tomorrow's foreboding, however. Muttiah Muralitharan will have noted that explosive spot on the pitch.
Snarl of the day
Ryan Sidebottom's new-ball exploits have been the most cheering aspect of England's bowling effort. He bagged two early scalps at the start of the innings, then returned 80 hot and sweaty overs later to dismiss Michael Vandort with a full and swinging delivery. His best delivery of the innings, however, was reserved for the incoming Chamara Silva, whom he beat with a beauty that jagged back late outside off stump. The follow-up was not quite such a beauty however. Sidebottom stropped down the pitch, his face contorted and hair all over the shop, to growl a few words of welcome. He does a very good impression of Paris Hilton's lapdog.
Dismissal of the day
It came late in the day - too late, realistically, to preserve England's prospects of victory in this Test, but it was hugely deserved nonetheless. Steve Harmison has bowled far, far worse than this and gained more rewards. The pitch offered him nothing but he never strayed from his line, and with the shadows starting to creep he did for Chamara Silva with a classic Harmy-style delivery. Short, brutish and rising in spite of the sluggish pitch, it took the shoulder and looped to Ravi Bopara in the gully. The stats don't suggest it, but for this match at least, he's back in the groove.
Crowd/umpire banter of the day
The Barmy Army were in fine voice in the afternoon session, as they often are when the cricket starts to drift. Towards the end of the day, they unfurled their version of The Twelve Days of Christmas, including the verses: "Five days in Galle (we hope!), Four more run, three leg byes, two cheating umpires and a win at the SSC." Daryl Harper, at square leg, couldn't help but react to that penultimate line, and turned and shrugged each time the verse came round. It was all done in good humour though, with plenty mutual appreciation at the end.
Stats of the day
During his run-spree at Kandy last week, Kumar Sangakkara suggested that a tally of 20 Test centuries was the mark of a great batsman. In that case, his friend and captain, Mahela Jayawardene, has just entered the pantheon. Not only did he notch up his score of hundreds, but he also broke a host of records along the way. On 111 he passed Sanath Jayasuriya's Sri Lanka Test record of 6973 runs, on 137 he broke the 7000 barrier, and when he notched up his 150, he surpassed Graham Gooch's long-standing record as the highest run-scorer on a single Test ground. Gooch made 2015 runs in his 21 visits to Lord's. Mahela has 2034 and counting in 19 games at the SSC.
Plays of the day from the IPL match between Chennai Super Kings and Kings XI Punjab in Abu Dhabi
Modern bats are getting chunkier by the day, while not getting much more heavy. This gives batsmen an unfair advantage