Sri Lanka v England, 2nd Test, Colombo April 2, 2012

Captains experience conflicting fortunes

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Match facts


Tuesday, April 3, P Sara Oval
Start time 1000 (0530 BST)

Big Picture


In England terms, this Test is about one man: Andrew Strauss. England's captain has said that he has not considered resigning despite England's losing run on the subcontinent of four successive Tests and his own mediocre form which, Tests against Australia apart, has gone on for more than two years. An England victory or an innings to restate his worth is sorely overdue.

It is doubtless the case that he has not thought of resignation and neither have England's selectors yet seriously thought of forcing him to stand down. They are all observing a problem and trusting that it will go away. One of Strauss' strengths as a captain is that he is supremely confident about his rightful place at the centre of things. He can be short of runs and chided for what are seen as overly defensive tactics but even without England's position at the top of the Test rankings, he would understandably be perceived as indispensable managerial material. If he threatened to move to the Cayman Islands, it would probably persuade the government to drop the top rate of tax by another 5p.

Strauss' immediate fate might rest on a difficult selection. England need to decide whether pace or spin is their best chance of rescuing their Test credentials. Shane Warne took 11 in his one appearance here while the wicket-taking list is headed by an unsurprising name: Muttiah Muralitharan claimed 52 wickets in nine Tests. England have not played here since Sri Lanka's inaugural Test in 1982 when Derek Underwood and John Emburey combined to take 14 wickets.

Sri Lanka, by contrast, are experiencing love, second time around, for Mahela Jaywardene. After the retirement of Murali, decline seemed likely. England, comically vulnerable against spin all winter, have fired Sri Lanka's belief that taking 20 wickets in a Test remains achievable.

Form guide


Sri Lanka: WLWLD
England: LLLLW

Players to watch


It would be so easy to say Strauss, but we must also look elsewhere. No matter how conducive to spin this pitch turns out to be, an England victory would probably be fired by Steve Finn's ability to transfer some of the fire he showed in the ODIs against Pakistan in the UAE into a sweltering Test arena. For Sri Lanka, Rangana Herath has achieved number one status after taking 12 wickets in Galle. Superficially, he just looks to be another solid slow left-armer with a decent cricketing brain. Are we missing something?

Team news


England's dilemma is how to replace the injured Stuart Broad and also get a third seam bowler into the side. They could variously include Bresnan and Finn for Broad and Patel (which would mean a weaker batting line-up), for Broad and Panesar (ignoring the importance of spin at this ground), or bring in Finn and retain the two-seamer approach. For Sri Lanka, Angelo Mathews returns for Dinesh Chandimal, whose reckless batting in Galle was one of Sri Lanka's less impressive features. Mathews has recovered from calf trouble but he is not expected to bowl. Chanaka Welegedara, a left-arm seamer, claimed just one wicket in Galle and has been omitted because of a strained groin.

Sri Lanka (probable) 1 Lahiru Thirimanne, 2 Tillakaratne Dilshan, 3 Kumar Sangakkara, 4 Mahela Jayawardene (capt), 5 Thilan Samaraweera, 6 Angelo Mathews, 7 Prasanna Jayawardene (wk), 8 Suraj Randiv, 9 Rangana Herath, 10 Dhammika Prasad, 11 Suranga Lakmal.

England (probable) 1 Andrew Strauss (capt), 2 Alastair Cook, 3 Jonathan Trott, 4 Kevin Pietersen, 5 Ian Bell, 6 Matt Prior (wk), 7 Samit Patel, 8 Tim Bresnan, 9 Graeme Swann, 10 James Anderson, 11 Steve Finn.

Pitch and conditions


The P Sara Oval groundsman, NS Silva, has said he thinks the match will go five days but England have not achieved that on their recent travels. There have been 11 results from the 15 Tests played at the venue, the last of which was in August 2010, when India chased down 257. Suraj Randiv took nine wickets in that match and spin has a good record at the ground.

Stats and trivia


  • The full title of the P Sara Oval is the P Saravanamuttu Oval. It was named after Paikiasothy Saravanamuttu, a former civil servant and the first president of the Sri Lanka board.
  • The stadium underwent a modest revamp with the addition of an air conditioned building equipped with more comfortable seating and Wi-Fi. A media room has since been added.
  • There are arguably more crows seen at the P Sara Oval than any other Test ground.
  • Drunken fans caused a storm in 2010 when they heckled India's 12th man Yuvraj Singh as "water boy".
  • One of the most memorable fast-bowling bursts in Test history took place in a neutral Test between Pakistan and Australia in 2002 when Shoaib Akhtar dismissed Ricky Ponting, Mark Waugh and Steve Waugh in the same over.

Quotes


"There are five or six teams in the world playing really good cricket now, so on any given day they can beat each other, but England have set the standards."
Mahela Jayawardene, Sri Lanka's captain, is gleeful about the prospect of a pacy pitch

"I'm watching Bear Grylls cope with the frigid French Alps before bedtime. If it snows tomorrow in Colombo I shall be the man to turn to..."
Graeme Swann, cooped up in his Colombo hotel room, tries to keep the lighthearted mood.

David Hopps is the UK editor of ESPNcricinfo

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • POSTED BY Ksaminda on | April 3, 2012, 3:11 GMT

    Truly both teams looks so strong. look at the team cards by looking at them you cant pick a winner But the thing is the way England batting they cant stay as the no one team only from playing only in there home soil… when we travel to England or SA or Aus they gives us such green wickets even then we played really better cricket than what England are now playing but the commentators had lots of criticism about our loving lion team but now why cant they talk about England like that????? Having said that like mahela said "you need to play really well to win this match". Need good batting need good bwling, need good flding..also team selection is so very important I feel shaminda eranga should need to play…anywy wish you all the best lions… :D

  • POSTED BY Slesh on | April 3, 2012, 2:45 GMT

    Plz mahela include ERANGA..as we are going with 2 seamers there should be someone who can threat the Englishmen by doing something extraordinary.cant have the pitch advantage from Dhammika just only by his pace... hope you got it!!!

  • POSTED BY Yasindu on | April 3, 2012, 2:32 GMT

    @FaheemAhmed Are you mad ? Sl won 2nd test in durban

  • POSTED BY on | April 3, 2012, 2:09 GMT

    Hahahaha form guide was April fool's joke very good

  • POSTED BY jmcilhinney on | April 3, 2012, 0:54 GMT

    Whatever else is said, England simply need to bat well. They've been bowling well all through the UAE games and the Galle test so that's not really an issue. But for some blemishes in the field they may still have won that Galle game, although they did also enjoy their own lucky breaks. I saw enough in that Galle match to be encouraged but certainly not confident. I hope that they bat sensibly, i.e. not overly defensively as in UAE, don't premeditate too many shots, get forward when the length warrants it and don't sweep virtual full tosses.

  • POSTED BY landl47 on | April 3, 2012, 0:02 GMT

    If the 'probable' England side turns out to be right (sorry, ranga s, but going into a test in Sri Lanka with only three specialist bowlers would be madness) I think England should win fairly easily. Winning the toos would help, but there's a big gap between these two sides which only Mahela's wonderful innings in Galle could have overcome. I'm sorry to see Chandimal dropped, he's one of the very few bright prospects for SL and he batted a good deal better than some of the others.

  • POSTED BY DwightR on | April 2, 2012, 23:54 GMT

    completely disagree with Chandimal being dropped, our openers have failed and I would have dropped thrimanne and had Chandimal partner with Dilshan at the top, Angelo would fit into the 6 and SL would have a devestating batting order. Also dont agree with Prasad sharing the new ball with Lakmal, Eranga has been the better bowler in recent performances and should be in the squad n given the new ball.

  • POSTED BY maddy20 on | April 2, 2012, 23:24 GMT

    @Nerk Toss did not have a say in England's first innings debacle where they conceded a huge amount of lead to the Lankans. The number of LBWs indicate that England are clueless on turning tracks!

  • POSTED BY JG2704 on | April 2, 2012, 22:06 GMT

    Re form guide - I always had it that you'd have the most recent result at the end of the sequence , in which case , in tests it would be WLLLL.

  • POSTED BY on | April 2, 2012, 21:49 GMT

    It is saying Chandimal needs to leave out because of his reckless batting...He scored 27 7 31 runs with recless batting...So what about other guys Dily,Lahiru,sanga and Tilan (second innings)........All the other recless batters deserve the place....poor chandi is paying the penalty .....

  • POSTED BY Ksaminda on | April 3, 2012, 3:11 GMT

    Truly both teams looks so strong. look at the team cards by looking at them you cant pick a winner But the thing is the way England batting they cant stay as the no one team only from playing only in there home soil… when we travel to England or SA or Aus they gives us such green wickets even then we played really better cricket than what England are now playing but the commentators had lots of criticism about our loving lion team but now why cant they talk about England like that????? Having said that like mahela said "you need to play really well to win this match". Need good batting need good bwling, need good flding..also team selection is so very important I feel shaminda eranga should need to play…anywy wish you all the best lions… :D

  • POSTED BY Slesh on | April 3, 2012, 2:45 GMT

    Plz mahela include ERANGA..as we are going with 2 seamers there should be someone who can threat the Englishmen by doing something extraordinary.cant have the pitch advantage from Dhammika just only by his pace... hope you got it!!!

  • POSTED BY Yasindu on | April 3, 2012, 2:32 GMT

    @FaheemAhmed Are you mad ? Sl won 2nd test in durban

  • POSTED BY on | April 3, 2012, 2:09 GMT

    Hahahaha form guide was April fool's joke very good

  • POSTED BY jmcilhinney on | April 3, 2012, 0:54 GMT

    Whatever else is said, England simply need to bat well. They've been bowling well all through the UAE games and the Galle test so that's not really an issue. But for some blemishes in the field they may still have won that Galle game, although they did also enjoy their own lucky breaks. I saw enough in that Galle match to be encouraged but certainly not confident. I hope that they bat sensibly, i.e. not overly defensively as in UAE, don't premeditate too many shots, get forward when the length warrants it and don't sweep virtual full tosses.

  • POSTED BY landl47 on | April 3, 2012, 0:02 GMT

    If the 'probable' England side turns out to be right (sorry, ranga s, but going into a test in Sri Lanka with only three specialist bowlers would be madness) I think England should win fairly easily. Winning the toos would help, but there's a big gap between these two sides which only Mahela's wonderful innings in Galle could have overcome. I'm sorry to see Chandimal dropped, he's one of the very few bright prospects for SL and he batted a good deal better than some of the others.

  • POSTED BY DwightR on | April 2, 2012, 23:54 GMT

    completely disagree with Chandimal being dropped, our openers have failed and I would have dropped thrimanne and had Chandimal partner with Dilshan at the top, Angelo would fit into the 6 and SL would have a devestating batting order. Also dont agree with Prasad sharing the new ball with Lakmal, Eranga has been the better bowler in recent performances and should be in the squad n given the new ball.

  • POSTED BY maddy20 on | April 2, 2012, 23:24 GMT

    @Nerk Toss did not have a say in England's first innings debacle where they conceded a huge amount of lead to the Lankans. The number of LBWs indicate that England are clueless on turning tracks!

  • POSTED BY JG2704 on | April 2, 2012, 22:06 GMT

    Re form guide - I always had it that you'd have the most recent result at the end of the sequence , in which case , in tests it would be WLLLL.

  • POSTED BY on | April 2, 2012, 21:49 GMT

    It is saying Chandimal needs to leave out because of his reckless batting...He scored 27 7 31 runs with recless batting...So what about other guys Dily,Lahiru,sanga and Tilan (second innings)........All the other recless batters deserve the place....poor chandi is paying the penalty .....

  • POSTED BY Nerk on | April 2, 2012, 21:46 GMT

    Strauss needs to practice his tossing. England have had to bat second on turning pitches how many times in a row now? They need to be the first to put runs on the board, instead of having to catch up all the time.

  • POSTED BY Cpt.Meanster on | April 2, 2012, 21:26 GMT

    I think Mahela is being very generous when he says "England have set the standard". Seriously Mahela, what standards are you talking about ??? beating a 'world cup lagged' and aging Team India at home last summer ? then losing to Pakistan in the form of a whitewash in the U.A.E ? and now having lost the first test at Galle ? what standards ? sure their fitness and training rituals are good and there is professionalism in what the England management does. But seriously, these guys can't play in typical Asian conditions ? they may be no.1 now but do they deserve that title ? hmm.. some thoughts to tickle your brain perhaps.

  • POSTED BY ranga_s on | April 2, 2012, 20:59 GMT

    @FaheemAhmed: SL were 1-1 with SA when they stepped in to the final test against SA..I think SL's form guide should be as follows (Most recent first): WLWLD. So SL form guide is right. But England's is the problem..it's almost as if the writer is ashamed to state ENG as LLLLW.

    @Nampally: I agree to the most parts of your comment where the duration is essential but I don't think SL got pasted with losses in England..It was a commendable performace from them to finish 1-0 in the losing side who threatened to win the Lord's Test. Compared to 4-0 loss 1-0 loss in early summer where the conditions are the toughest is a good show. Yet I agree with your core concept..How quickly you adapt the better chance of succeeding. Most recent No:1's are pretty similar in that case.. India takes ages to adapt..The couldn't do it for 3 months in Australia also..Same with England here..been like 3 months in sub-continent still having trouble against decent turning tracks..

  • POSTED BY InnocentGuy on | April 2, 2012, 20:55 GMT

    Oooh, Hoppsy. Come on dude! Chill. And I am curious how the data entry error can show both SL and ENG as winners of their respective last games? The Galle test was the last game either team played so it doesn't quite add up, your explanation.

  • POSTED BY ranga_s on | April 2, 2012, 20:46 GMT

    England's best chance of winning as I keep saying is to strengthen the batting and get the best bowling options...If Bopara can do a decent bowling performance he should play ahead of Bresnan in my view as Bopara's batting skills would come handy in 2nd innings.

    My Eng Probable: Strauss, Cook, Trott, Pietersen, Bell, Prior, Bopara, Patel, Swann, Anderson, Finn.

    Sri Lanka, though they won the Galle test I'd say they still search for that real balance in the team..I still feel they'd go with 2 spinners as Randiv will get more bounce on Sara wicket and that spin would be quick compared to Galle Spin..Also whether it should be Thirimanne or Chandimal to drop down for Matthews is a question..I personally like to see Chandimal batting with Dilshan hence following would be my SL probable:

    Dilshan, Chandimal, Sangakkara, Mahela, Samaraweera, Matthews, Parsanna, Randiv, Herath, Prasad, Eranga.

    If Eranga is fit to play he should play ahead of Lakmal.He's got lively pace and swings the ball

  • POSTED BY on | April 2, 2012, 19:51 GMT

    Thank-you for your attentive comments about the Form Guide (especially those that were actually made politely). Due to a data entry error, Form in all competitions was included, not just Tests. This careless error has been rectified. I also regret that some of you feel the need to disparage the reference to crows in the Stats and Trivia section. This is more likely to be a fact than you might imagine (I have found on at least 6 matches at the ground - I even have a charming picture of a crow sat on the back of a dog as it watches the cricket) and which other readers found an amusing oddity of the venue that is not easily found on StatsGuru. But then some people prefer hard stats not trivia and you can't please everyone. Please all join cricinfo conversations with perceptive feedback again tomorrow. We look forward to seeing you.

  • POSTED BY FaheemAhmed on | April 2, 2012, 19:30 GMT

    Very pathetic GUIDE for both England and SL Before their last win over Eng, SL played 3 test match series in S.A and they lost first 2 test and won last test but if you look at cricinfo's SL guide then SL must have been won the test series in SA bt 2-0 SL Guide Should be WWLLD Eng Guide should be LLLLW

  • POSTED BY B.Moizuddin.Gouhar on | April 2, 2012, 19:05 GMT

    hello guys... i hope u all are in good health... just correct form guide if im rite they played a last test between themselves (sl vs eng) and how come both are winners... may be im wrong if im not wrong then just correct it.. bye and tc and gudluck..

  • POSTED BY hakoonj on | April 2, 2012, 19:03 GMT

    Error on England's form guide, they have lost the last 4 test matches that they have played.

  • POSTED BY FaheemAhmed on | April 2, 2012, 18:56 GMT

    @David Hoops

    Form guide Sri Lanka: WWDWD England: WLWLD

    Sir in which world do you live? England has lost their last four matches

  • POSTED BY KelvinLTR on | April 2, 2012, 18:56 GMT

    please check the Form guide content

  • POSTED BY AdrianVanDenStael on | April 2, 2012, 18:54 GMT

    Anyone else puzzled by the "form guide"? Whatever else it represents, it's not England's last four results in test cricket ... everyone knows what that LLLLine wouLLLLd LLLLook LLLLike

  • POSTED BY Nampally on | April 2, 2012, 18:38 GMT

    It is not Strauss's fault that he is failing in batting. England is weak against spin bowlers on sub-continental pitches. The pitches are more turners than bouncy & seamy. So the batting technique needs to be modified to suit the conditions & spin. Sri Lanka & India faced the same situation when they visited England last year. Actually England had far greater exposure to these pitches after playing Pakistan in Abu Dhabi, than SL or India did playing test matches within 2 weeks of landing. Both India & SL got pasted with losses due to inability to adapt to different pitches + cold swinging conditions. At least England have just spin to counter on relatively flat tracks - almost batting paradise!.India trounced England 5-0 in India after being similarly white washed in England only a month earlier.There is lesson to be learnt - How good & how fast a team is in adaptability to conditions foreign to them.Longer time to adapt will make it more even playing field & should be considered!.

  • POSTED BY suve on | April 2, 2012, 18:37 GMT

    This preview articles looks so unprofessional, is it a april fools joke?. "There are arguably more crows seen at the P Sara Stadium than any other Test ground", what kind of stat is that?. Whats up with the form guide, it's not these teams test match form, because none of them have won so many games in the last 5 matches.

  • POSTED BY on | April 2, 2012, 18:18 GMT

    England's form guide: LLLLW Not WLWLD

  • POSTED BY kirana on | April 2, 2012, 18:17 GMT

    If I am correct, form guide is the team performance in the lost 5 matches. How come England's form is WLWLD when they lost the last 4 test matches. Please be correct while providing the news related to stats.

  • POSTED BY on | April 2, 2012, 18:16 GMT

    The from guide? No wonder Sri Lanka are the favourites...

  • POSTED BY on | April 2, 2012, 18:14 GMT

    No worries ... !! Let him come to India ... our bowlers are very charitable ... they will keep bowling short and wide to him ... although his weakness is in driving spinning or swinging balls ...!! He will find his form in India. Just persist with him till then.

  • POSTED BY stormy16 on | April 2, 2012, 18:12 GMT

    If Eng go in with the idea of winning with pace (good plan I reckon) they may have to bat second to get the most of the conditions. This of course means Eng still have to face the SL spinners when the wicket is roughed up. Interesting choices in a must win game.

  • POSTED BY on | April 2, 2012, 18:12 GMT

    Form guide

    Sri Lanka: WWDWD England: WLWLD

    is it rue..as well as i remember..sri lanka's last 4 tests loss, win, loss, win

    abt england.. i m 100% sure.. loss, loss, loss, loss

  • POSTED BY i_witnessed_2011 on | April 2, 2012, 17:48 GMT

    Form guide Sri Lanka: WWDWD England: WLWLD England have won 2 matches , lost two and drawn 1 in last 5 matches... I think this is not this year#s data :)

  • POSTED BY soumyas on | April 2, 2012, 17:42 GMT

    england's problem: their lack of determination, when trott can play why other batsmen are failing ? they shud stop complaining abt spin friendly pitches, this is what they get in most pitches of subcontinent. playing spin and surviving is a different dimension in cricket. they should develop those skills, i think Trott,E.morgan,Petersen are already good players of spin, they have Swann and Paneesar as quality spinners in team who can win the match with their bowling. though E.Morgan not in team they can play Bopara. he is good bowler and can bat well also.

  • POSTED BY SL_kamal on | April 2, 2012, 17:38 GMT

    Don't think this is a good preview compared to usual Cricinfo previews. Writer seems to have no detailed idea on each players talent, form and ability to perform under subcontinental conditions. Looks like the preview is just based on stats rather than watching players performing. Even referring stats is difficult to believe as the "Form Guide" is wrong for both teams. On top of that, lots of irrelevant stuff for a preview like drunken fans and crows.

  • POSTED BY on | April 2, 2012, 17:24 GMT

    Wait isn't England LWLLL cause of the drubbing vs Pakistan?

  • POSTED BY boraluwa on | April 2, 2012, 17:20 GMT

    Thats a strange form guide for an article talking about 4 straight losses for England. Think it should read as Sri Lanka: WLWLD and England: LLLLW

  • POSTED BY on | April 2, 2012, 17:18 GMT

    England have lost four Tests in succession. How is it that the form guide says WLWLD? Selective amnesia?

  • POSTED BY on | April 2, 2012, 17:18 GMT

    hey the form guide for england should say lost last 4....isnt it?

  • POSTED BY billbowden311 on | April 2, 2012, 17:14 GMT

    What the heck they got the form guide wrong for England!! Its LLLLW

  • POSTED BY AmmarAshraf on | April 2, 2012, 17:12 GMT

    Please correct FORM GUIDE of England its LLLLW

  • No featured comments at the moment.

  • POSTED BY AmmarAshraf on | April 2, 2012, 17:12 GMT

    Please correct FORM GUIDE of England its LLLLW

  • POSTED BY billbowden311 on | April 2, 2012, 17:14 GMT

    What the heck they got the form guide wrong for England!! Its LLLLW

  • POSTED BY on | April 2, 2012, 17:18 GMT

    hey the form guide for england should say lost last 4....isnt it?

  • POSTED BY on | April 2, 2012, 17:18 GMT

    England have lost four Tests in succession. How is it that the form guide says WLWLD? Selective amnesia?

  • POSTED BY boraluwa on | April 2, 2012, 17:20 GMT

    Thats a strange form guide for an article talking about 4 straight losses for England. Think it should read as Sri Lanka: WLWLD and England: LLLLW

  • POSTED BY on | April 2, 2012, 17:24 GMT

    Wait isn't England LWLLL cause of the drubbing vs Pakistan?

  • POSTED BY SL_kamal on | April 2, 2012, 17:38 GMT

    Don't think this is a good preview compared to usual Cricinfo previews. Writer seems to have no detailed idea on each players talent, form and ability to perform under subcontinental conditions. Looks like the preview is just based on stats rather than watching players performing. Even referring stats is difficult to believe as the "Form Guide" is wrong for both teams. On top of that, lots of irrelevant stuff for a preview like drunken fans and crows.

  • POSTED BY soumyas on | April 2, 2012, 17:42 GMT

    england's problem: their lack of determination, when trott can play why other batsmen are failing ? they shud stop complaining abt spin friendly pitches, this is what they get in most pitches of subcontinent. playing spin and surviving is a different dimension in cricket. they should develop those skills, i think Trott,E.morgan,Petersen are already good players of spin, they have Swann and Paneesar as quality spinners in team who can win the match with their bowling. though E.Morgan not in team they can play Bopara. he is good bowler and can bat well also.

  • POSTED BY i_witnessed_2011 on | April 2, 2012, 17:48 GMT

    Form guide Sri Lanka: WWDWD England: WLWLD England have won 2 matches , lost two and drawn 1 in last 5 matches... I think this is not this year#s data :)

  • POSTED BY on | April 2, 2012, 18:12 GMT

    Form guide

    Sri Lanka: WWDWD England: WLWLD

    is it rue..as well as i remember..sri lanka's last 4 tests loss, win, loss, win

    abt england.. i m 100% sure.. loss, loss, loss, loss