Sri Lanka v England, 2nd Test, Colombo, 2nd day April 4, 2012

Openers stand and deliver

Plays of the Day from the second day of the second Test between Sri Lanka and England in Colombo

First of the day
There are many statistics that show how difficult it has been for England's batsman in 2012 and another is the fact that when Alastair Cook nudged Rangana Herath off his hip in the 21st over it took him and Andrew Strauss to their first fifty opening stand of the year. They had ended the English season with a brace of good contributions against India - 186 at Edgbaston and 75 at The Oval - and carried this effort past three figures during the final session to lay a solid foundation.

Catch of the day
Kevin Pietersen occasionally attracts attention for the wrong reasons in the field but England were grateful that it was him stationed at a deep-ish mid-on when Suraj Randiv tried to launch Graeme Swann down the ground. Pietersen had to backpedal to keep the catch within range but still needed to be at full stretch to grab hold of the ball and did well to ensue it did not fall out as he rolled on the ground.

Classic dismissal of the day
Graeme Swann was at his best on the second morning, teasing the batsmen with flight and keeping the scoring rate down. He wrapped up the innings with the perfect offspinner's dismissal as the ball spun through the forward defensive push of Suranga Lakmal to hit the stumps. But seeing a ball turn square will not have been the memory England's top order will have wanted to take off the field with them.

Painful throw of the day
Lahriu Thirimanne is having a tough time with the bat but he is excellent under the helmet at short leg. He was close to snapping up a couple of early chances against England's openers but could not quite cling on as he had in the second innings in Galle. What he did not need, though, was a painful blow on the ankle from a team-mate as Cook scampered for a single. The throw flew past the wicketkeeper and clonked Thirimanne below his protective padding, leaving him hopping around in pain.

Unfulfilled innings of the day
Strauss did so much right during his innings and his half-century was greeted by a standing ovation from the England fans. He would not have had time for a hundred on the second evening but he would have been nearing the milestone come the close. But then the chance went begging when he edged a cut against Tillakaratne Dilshan. It was a good innings from Strauss and showed his fighting qualities. They were never in doubt but the century wait continues.

Pre-season training of the day
Back in England the County Championship is set to begin on Thursday and, as if on cue, it has started to snow in parts of the country. Some of England's squad players in Sri Lanka, who haven't had much to do on this trip, will probably slot straight into the second round of matches next week. As the Test was going on, James Tredwell and Steven Davies made use of the net facilities at the P Sara Oval to do some work ahead of the domestic season and were later followed by Monty Panesar and Ravi Bopara. It was certainly a few degrees warmer than the weather their county team-mates will have been experiencing.

Andrew McGlashan is an assistant editor at ESPNcricinfo

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • John on April 5, 2012, 7:57 GMT

    @grizzle on (April 05 2012, 00:35 AM GMT) Fair play to you for your honesty and even though you - for whatever reason - want us to lose , you are giving us some credit for when we do play well

  • Martin on April 5, 2012, 5:47 GMT

    @jmcilhinney on (April 05 2012, 02:57 AM GMT) - absolutely right. Win or lose - if people were not able to enjoy and appreciate the 3 Tests in the UAE and the 1st Test @Galle and now this one - then they really have no business commenting at all. In our experience, win or lose there are no "bad" or "boring" Test matches. Can't say the same for some of the people who post comments on here though.

  • Tootu on April 5, 2012, 5:14 GMT

    @brittop , hope that is the tactic. At least you make a relevant comment to what I wrote.

    @A_Vacant_Slip read your comment once again and you'll see who is more desperate

    @Riingo "You need not tell me what to watch, this is an open forum and every one can express their feelings. I got bored of this test match and that is what I wrote if you felt very exited by the day's play you can write that." - this is what I already wrote in reply.

  • John on April 5, 2012, 4:55 GMT

    @vk6848, I agree that Chandimal is almost certainly a future cornerstone for SL and really does need to be in the team. That said, you can't really fault Matthews effort in the first innings, which also showed the maturity missing from Chandimal's efforts last match. I guess most SL fans think that it should have been Thirimanne who was left out for Matthews rather than Chandimal, but then who opens the batting? Surely not Jayawardene. His doing so in ODIs is one thing but he's doing so well at #4 in Tests that I'm not sure you'd want to tinker with that.

  • Vasantha on April 5, 2012, 3:45 GMT

    It is nice to see England fighting back; going slow does not matter in this relatively low scoring game. Swan is flying again too, and an SL loss looks most likely to me. SL 'selectors' have done their bit too-- leaving out Chandimal who is the only future prospect for SL is unbelievable. But Englishmen, don't bank on Bresnan's winning record; apparently SL have won the last 4 matches where Sangakkara made a duck- he made another special one here!

  • John on April 5, 2012, 2:57 GMT

    I have to agree that anyone who thought that that day's play was boring simply isn't a Test cricket fan and shouldn't be watching in the first place. If you want excitement then Test cricket is not the game to watch. They can be exciting but generally only towards the end. Interesting, absorbing, enthralling and the like are more the words I'd use to describe Test cricket. It's kinda stupid to criticise England for scoring slowly when they'd have been roundly criticised for attacking and getting out. England's main objective is to not get out. If they do that and continue to pick up singles and put away the bad ball then they'll end up with a big lead and enough time to bowl SL out. They are very definitely not playing for a draw. England have batted themselves into collectively poor batting form and they are not going to get out of that by trying to score at 4 an over. They need to bat sensibly and that's just what they're doing. As an England fan, I'd say their approach is perfect.

  • Dummy4 on April 5, 2012, 2:54 GMT

    Lords.Emsworth - I agree with you. I did not refer to Chandimal because in early part of the career this can happen. I guess even Brian Lara was overlooked after scoring 40 odd on debut if my memory is correct. Thilan was also left out of playing XI after averaging close to hundred in the early part of his career when Aravinda De Silva was recalled for the England tour.

  • s on April 5, 2012, 0:35 GMT

    Well done England! As an Indian fan, I am cheering for Sri Lanka in the (vain?) hope that another loss in the subcontinent will demoralize England somewhat ahead of their Indian tour, but the England team will just not stay down. Good for them! I only wish the Indian cricket team would learn from the English, and not just about bowling.

  • Chris on April 5, 2012, 0:33 GMT

    To the Monty fans - I'm one as well - what you have to realise is there is more than just bowling performance to consider. I presume nobody is suggesting dropping Anderson or Finn? In which case Monty playing would result in a tail of Anderson, Finn, Monty - given how important tail end runs have been this winter, that seems very frail. Though I suspect the bigger reason behind him being dropped is his fielding performance in the last test - arguably he lost us it by dropping catches, whereas Swann is one of our best fielders. Of course you should select a bowler primarily for his bowling, but in the modern game you also have to select a balanced side for all aspects of the game.

  • Al on April 4, 2012, 23:50 GMT

    Priyantha Gunaratna hits the nail on its head with his comments about the SL openers and Sangakarra and Thilan. Sangakarra especially has made it a habit to let down the side in the first or second test (Here its just 2 tests) only to come back and make a good score in the third when SL have already lost a series and there is nothing to play for. How Thirimanne made it as a Test opener is beyond me. Surely, surely, Tharanga is a better opener? If Thilan is victimized then so is young Chandimal....The poor lad is left out for been a consistent and attacking batsmen!

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