Sri Lanka v England, 2nd Test, Colombo, 4th day April 6, 2012

England rewarded for digging deep

Just as on day one, England's bowlers plugged away until the close to gain an edge in their pursuit of victory
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England's cricketers will not know what has hit them when they return home on Sunday. The domestic season has dawned with temperatures requiring multiple layers, while the international players have been sweating buckets trying to regain their reputation in Sri Lanka. Never more so than the fourth day in Colombo, which ended with them sensing a series-levelling victory.

That chance, though, did not appear so close just two overs from the close. Graeme Swann was tossed the ball for six deliveries and in the space of three of them changed the complexion of the day. Before Thilan Samaraweera was beaten by sharp turn, bottom edging into leg stump, Sri Lanka had forged a position from where safety was a realistic aim yet a few minutes later England left the field buoyant. Well, as buoyant as they could be after 90 overs of unremitting hard work.

It is impossible not admire that trait about the England team. Sure, they have had their problems in recent months but they never shirk from doing the hard yards in the field. It has been a hallmark of their cricket in recent years. Matt Prior reckoned he had lost about 3kg by lunch, let alone what another two sessions had done to him after bending and squatting at least 540 times in the day.

"On days like today you have to sit in and be attritional, hope that you get your opportunities and take them, more importantly," Prior said. "It's massive, you think you've earned it. It doesn't always happen like that. Sometimes you walk off with them four down and think we put a lot of work in and didn't get rewards. Thankfully we got them today."

England banked on making something happen with the new ball - although Swann was probably not the expected route - which put the onus on James Anderson and Steven Finn to respond at the end of a long day. Anderson's final six-over spell (which cost just five runs and could easily have claimed a wicket) was as good as anything he had bowled in the match. That is the hallmark of a supreme athlete and wonderful bowler.

Swann is often quick to deprecate himself by highlighting how he skips in off a few steps, but in these situations the pressure is on the spinner. He is meant to be the matchwinner. Time and again Swann has delivered for England. When he was brought on during the afternoon - after Samit Patel had surprisingly been used at the start of the session - he struck first ball, albeit slightly controversially, to remove Tillakaratne Dilshan. That first-over trick is returning, as Samaraweera (and Suraj Randiv) later found out.

In between he prized out Kumar Sangakkara who, regardless of his struggle for form, remains a key wicket. To keep him quiet throughout a series, even a short one, is another feather in the bowlers' caps. It is well known how much Swann enjoys bowling at left-handers (which conventional offspinner has not?) and it was engaging to watch to him tease and tempt Sangakkara.

When he is at his best Swann gives Strauss two options - attack and defence. In the first innings, especially on the second morning, he helped ensure the scoring rate did not escape England, so when wickets did fall Sri Lanka had not moved too far. Too his credit, Patel also performed that role - his match economy rate stands at under two an over - but he does not possess the same skill of suddenly snaffling a vital wicket, although could have had Mahela Jayawardene if Tim Bresnan had leapt a little higher at mid-on in the first over after tea.

There were moments when the game when flat and you wondered if England were running out of puff. However, as on the first day when they claimed crucial late success which swayed the balance their way they had reserves left in their deep tanks.

"In these conditions you have to pick your moments when you go up and go through the gears," Prior explained. "Not only as bowlers, but as a fielding unit. We used the second new ball really well, we knew it was a good chance to fire in. Led by Jimmy and Finny the whole energy levels raised up and I think that's why we created those chances."

The job, however, is not quite done. By a quirk of Sri Lanka using two nightwatchmen in the innings - Dhammika Prasad opened the batting last night before Randiv came in at No. 7 - it means Angelo Mathews is at the crease with Prasanna Jayawardene still to come. Both have Test hundreds, while Mahela Jaywardene was still at the crease, defying England again.

"We'd be reluctant to think we can just roll them over. It's still a good wicket and we have four more to get out," Prior said. "It will be tough work. Hopefully we can roll through them but that's not what we are expecting. Whatever they set us we'll back ourselves to get."

The last time England had a realistic fourth-innings run chase it proved way beyond them as they collapsed for 72 in Abu Dhabi trying to reach 145. "Sometimes to have the opportunity again is the best way to exorcise a ghost," Prior said. "Each individual knows how we got it wrong that time. It was a long time ago now, in cricket terms, and we've moved on."

This is the first occasion during the year that England have taken a Test to the fifth day. They will hope it is a short one, but will not be afraid of digging deep again. They really know no other way.

Andrew McGlashan is an assistant editor at ESPNcricinfo

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • Shan156 on April 9, 2012, 23:23 GMT

    @csowmi7, Ajmal has played a grand total of 20 tests, 7 of them in the UAE, 3 in SL and 2 in Bangladesh. He has played no tests against India (the best players of spin) and the one test he played in Australia resulted in match figures of 2/223 for an average of 111.50 per wicket. So, perhaps we should reserve judgement on his abilities till he plays all countries everywhere. Swann has done just that and has managed to keep his average around 28 after playing so many tests which is very good for the modern day off-spinner. Ajmal's variations would mean little if he cannot take wickets everywhere. I do accept that he is better in the UAE. Regarding his performances in West Indies, who told you that those tracks were not favoring spin. Bishoo too did reasonably well in that series. These are not the yesteryear Windies pitches that favored pace. Some of the England pitches offer help to spinners too. Look at Swann's performances there. Too early to say Ajmal is the best.

  • JG2704 on April 7, 2012, 7:48 GMT

    @maddy20 on (April 06 2012, 22:33 PM GMT) Then is it a selection problem in India as to why these weren't playing in the England tour?

  • JG2704 on April 7, 2012, 7:48 GMT

    Again another topsy turvy day with Eng doing well to get SL 4 down and then SL digging in and then Eng getting 2 wickets late on. I'd say it could be 50/50 between Eng winning and a draw which is a worse position than I felt we were in this time yesterday. The daunting thing is that although SL are 6 down they still have to get 2 adept batsmen out (2 from Matthews and the 2 Js). Regardless of whether we win or not I feel that the selectors have been poor by not trying the 5 man bowling attack and when you look at what Swann has done you wonder what Monty might also have achieved.

  • simon_w on April 7, 2012, 6:47 GMT

    @jmcilhinney -- oh yeah, certainly can't fault the umpire, and imo the third umpire did exactly what he was supposed to: there's no way that was a howler, even if with the god's-eye-view it could be shown that he didn't hit it. I wasn't complaining about the umpire at all in any way!

  • csowmi7 on April 7, 2012, 4:58 GMT

    @shan156 Ajmal has a lower average than swann and has better variations than swann. Also he has taken 5 wicket hauls in England and West Indies where there is nothing for spinners. In the recent series in UAE we saw the difference between Swann and Ajmal. @maddy20 By no means am I underestimating pujara and Rahane. I know they have bundles of talent and can go on to become stalwarts of the game but the fact is they are inexperienced and are yet to face quality bowling in the international level. Also I agree that Laxman should be pushed aside. But as for Tendulkar I feel he can still play for another 2-3 years as he needs to be there to guide the youngsters. Youth needs to be infused but a complete overhaul will only cause problems. Look what happened to Australia and WI. Even in the recent series it was Ponting clarke and Hussey who performed not youngsters.

  • priceless1 on April 7, 2012, 4:44 GMT

    although the score board says SL 6 Down But the reality is two of them are Bowlers , with Mahela and Mathiews at the crease and Prasanna to come there is a possibility for SL to score decent enough runs and test the English Batsmen on fourth innings

  • jmcilhinney on April 7, 2012, 2:58 GMT

    @simon_w, I think that there's a good chance that Dilshan hit the ball, but I also think that there's a good chance that he didn't. I would guess that the umpire was influenced by the fact that there were two noises but, with the slo-mo replays, you could tell that the first noise was ball on pad and the second was bat on ground. I could see the mark on the bat you refer, and others, refer to but I'm not sure that contact that could make that mark would not make a noise too. Regardless, I don't think that you can really call it a bad decision by the umpire. He got one look at normal speed and under the circumstances I think giving it out is a reasonable decision. You also can't hold it against the third umpire because there really is no way to tell for sure either way even with all those replays. Even with HotSpot, as you say, we could still only confirm an edge and not necessarily deny one. If that red mark was from the ball though, I'm sure HotSpot would have picked it up too.

  • Dravid_Pujara_Gravitas on April 7, 2012, 2:03 GMT

    Absolutely stunning come back by the Brits. Wow, what a test match! An England win here will not go down well with us Indians. But big up to them. Very well played England. KP rocks. Swann is proving to be a handful in these conditions. This will do a world of good to his dented confidence.

  • BravoBravo on April 7, 2012, 1:22 GMT

    It is anyone's game now, though it seems like ENG may win. If SL piles up a lead of atleast 150 (which is not unthinkable), then winning may be difficult for ENG. Lets see what Swann got under his arm. Nonetheless, the day 5 will result in an exciting finish. Good luck to both teams.

  • Vosthi on April 7, 2012, 0:28 GMT

    I really do hope England wins - I really like their work ethic. It all depends on Swan now- India is way better than SL - They can at least pay their players on time and prepare better cricket pitches

  • Shan156 on April 9, 2012, 23:23 GMT

    @csowmi7, Ajmal has played a grand total of 20 tests, 7 of them in the UAE, 3 in SL and 2 in Bangladesh. He has played no tests against India (the best players of spin) and the one test he played in Australia resulted in match figures of 2/223 for an average of 111.50 per wicket. So, perhaps we should reserve judgement on his abilities till he plays all countries everywhere. Swann has done just that and has managed to keep his average around 28 after playing so many tests which is very good for the modern day off-spinner. Ajmal's variations would mean little if he cannot take wickets everywhere. I do accept that he is better in the UAE. Regarding his performances in West Indies, who told you that those tracks were not favoring spin. Bishoo too did reasonably well in that series. These are not the yesteryear Windies pitches that favored pace. Some of the England pitches offer help to spinners too. Look at Swann's performances there. Too early to say Ajmal is the best.

  • JG2704 on April 7, 2012, 7:48 GMT

    @maddy20 on (April 06 2012, 22:33 PM GMT) Then is it a selection problem in India as to why these weren't playing in the England tour?

  • JG2704 on April 7, 2012, 7:48 GMT

    Again another topsy turvy day with Eng doing well to get SL 4 down and then SL digging in and then Eng getting 2 wickets late on. I'd say it could be 50/50 between Eng winning and a draw which is a worse position than I felt we were in this time yesterday. The daunting thing is that although SL are 6 down they still have to get 2 adept batsmen out (2 from Matthews and the 2 Js). Regardless of whether we win or not I feel that the selectors have been poor by not trying the 5 man bowling attack and when you look at what Swann has done you wonder what Monty might also have achieved.

  • simon_w on April 7, 2012, 6:47 GMT

    @jmcilhinney -- oh yeah, certainly can't fault the umpire, and imo the third umpire did exactly what he was supposed to: there's no way that was a howler, even if with the god's-eye-view it could be shown that he didn't hit it. I wasn't complaining about the umpire at all in any way!

  • csowmi7 on April 7, 2012, 4:58 GMT

    @shan156 Ajmal has a lower average than swann and has better variations than swann. Also he has taken 5 wicket hauls in England and West Indies where there is nothing for spinners. In the recent series in UAE we saw the difference between Swann and Ajmal. @maddy20 By no means am I underestimating pujara and Rahane. I know they have bundles of talent and can go on to become stalwarts of the game but the fact is they are inexperienced and are yet to face quality bowling in the international level. Also I agree that Laxman should be pushed aside. But as for Tendulkar I feel he can still play for another 2-3 years as he needs to be there to guide the youngsters. Youth needs to be infused but a complete overhaul will only cause problems. Look what happened to Australia and WI. Even in the recent series it was Ponting clarke and Hussey who performed not youngsters.

  • priceless1 on April 7, 2012, 4:44 GMT

    although the score board says SL 6 Down But the reality is two of them are Bowlers , with Mahela and Mathiews at the crease and Prasanna to come there is a possibility for SL to score decent enough runs and test the English Batsmen on fourth innings

  • jmcilhinney on April 7, 2012, 2:58 GMT

    @simon_w, I think that there's a good chance that Dilshan hit the ball, but I also think that there's a good chance that he didn't. I would guess that the umpire was influenced by the fact that there were two noises but, with the slo-mo replays, you could tell that the first noise was ball on pad and the second was bat on ground. I could see the mark on the bat you refer, and others, refer to but I'm not sure that contact that could make that mark would not make a noise too. Regardless, I don't think that you can really call it a bad decision by the umpire. He got one look at normal speed and under the circumstances I think giving it out is a reasonable decision. You also can't hold it against the third umpire because there really is no way to tell for sure either way even with all those replays. Even with HotSpot, as you say, we could still only confirm an edge and not necessarily deny one. If that red mark was from the ball though, I'm sure HotSpot would have picked it up too.

  • Dravid_Pujara_Gravitas on April 7, 2012, 2:03 GMT

    Absolutely stunning come back by the Brits. Wow, what a test match! An England win here will not go down well with us Indians. But big up to them. Very well played England. KP rocks. Swann is proving to be a handful in these conditions. This will do a world of good to his dented confidence.

  • BravoBravo on April 7, 2012, 1:22 GMT

    It is anyone's game now, though it seems like ENG may win. If SL piles up a lead of atleast 150 (which is not unthinkable), then winning may be difficult for ENG. Lets see what Swann got under his arm. Nonetheless, the day 5 will result in an exciting finish. Good luck to both teams.

  • Vosthi on April 7, 2012, 0:28 GMT

    I really do hope England wins - I really like their work ethic. It all depends on Swan now- India is way better than SL - They can at least pay their players on time and prepare better cricket pitches

  • Valavan on April 6, 2012, 23:21 GMT

    @Shan156, seems you have a fixed target of 145, eventhough i know about SL batters, one good first hour will just favor England, Hopefully SL didnt forget Cardiff 2011. And All England haters (especially Indian fans), you are lowly ranked team in the current world, seems the summer series between India vs SL and hope SL beat India black an white to prove india is mere baggage out of india, I wish for a England win, SL dont worry India coming in july, so you can make a whitewash too. cricifo please publish.

  • Test-is-the-best on April 6, 2012, 23:21 GMT

    At the end of day 4 , England holds a great chance in winning this match. If SL could not bat on 40-45 overs it will be tough challenge to avoid defeat.

    Randiv has not done a good job in the first inning and no good contribution in batting as the no 8 batsmen for four innings .Its time to test Sachithra Senanayake in the next series.

    BTW SL found a new Opener at the end. Dammika Prasad has done a decent job who shared the best partnership for the 1st wkt for SL in this tournament.I wish reiterate that SL need to think about a new opener. in past few years SL tested Vandort,Malintha & Para. All these guys got average around 35. Thirmaane is not in good form , who need to work on weaknesses .Its better to groom 2 more top order batsmen who can bowl part time; Ex Munaweera,Sachithra Serasinghe,Angelo perera to take responsibilty after Dili & Thilan

  • simon_w on April 6, 2012, 22:39 GMT

    oh - and I'm not sure that HotSpot would have helped either. it could have confirmed that he hit it, perhaps, but it can't prove that he didn't, as has been shown and is generally understood now. the absence of a "hotspot" is not clear proof that it wasn't hit, sadly...

  • simon_w on April 6, 2012, 22:37 GMT

    am I the only person who thinks Dilshan hit that ball? There is a clearly visible red smudge on the edge of his bat which appears as the ball passes it, in exactly the right place at the right time, which there can be no other way of explaining. Did no-one else see this? David Hopp's article makes reference to it, but none of the English press or commentators seem to be talking about it (and I imagine the SL press probably aren't either).

  • maddy20 on April 6, 2012, 22:33 GMT

    @csowmi7 You are massively under estimating the likes of Rahane, Pujara. They are just too good in Indian conditions and are also not afraid to hook and pull. Pujara scored 70 odd on his debut against Aus in Bangalore. Rahane is of the same class if not better! I really wish the Aging duo of Laxman and Sachin step aside for these future stalwarts of the Indian batting line up.

  • ZsZs on April 6, 2012, 21:33 GMT

    As per Reliance Rankings on ICC page Herath (7) is ranked higher than Swann (9).

  • Shan156 on April 6, 2012, 21:32 GMT

    @csowmi7, Ajmal is a very good spinner no doubt but let the guy first perform everywhere in the world (especially Australia and against arch rivals India anywhere) before we call him the best. At the moment, there isn't a huge difference between Ajmal and Swann. Swann hasn't had great success against the best players of spin (India) or in Australia (off-spinner's graveyard) but he still managed to take 5 wickets hauls and win the game for his team. If Ajmal does something similar, then we can accept that he is better than Swann. Till then, he only remains a better spinner in the UAE. @pradeep_dealwis, stop these excuses about umpiring. I remember before the days of neutral umpires, people used to say that SL play with 13 men (including the umpires) and still lose:-) All results are still possible especially considering England's failure to chase 145 just few months ago. Of course, Herath and Randiv are not Ajmal and Rehman but it is still may be very difficult.

  • 2.14istherunrate on April 6, 2012, 21:30 GMT

    5th day should be fascinating. The spectre of Abu Dabi does indeed loom large as indeed does the possibility that Monty's omission was a critical error. Patel is too much a bits and pieces player for my liking and would really have to make it as a pure batsman who bowls a bit. Oh dear Perera32, what a take on a batting tour de force. @slogs' as you call them are the only way to score fast on low slow wicket like that. Sheer elan batting!!

  • Shan156 on April 6, 2012, 21:24 GMT

    @Lord.emsworth, "who's the best of the spinners both sides", in this series, yes, Herath has had better stats than Swann although he is the only real threat for England's batsmen while England's bowling attack doesn't leave everything for Swann (Jimmy twice took early wickets in this series) to do. However, to really compare the two spinners, you have to look at their overall performance. Swann has a good record overall and better record than Herath almost everywhere - the only country where Herath has a better average than Swann is in SA. The only country against whom Herath has a better average is Australia and that is because Swann played 5 tests against Australia in Australia (an off-spinner's graveyard) and managed to bowl England to victory on a couple of occasions; Herath has never played there. Herath is a decent spinner but not remotely as good as Swann.

  • on April 6, 2012, 20:58 GMT

    @ Lord.emsworth No one is denying that Herath is bowling well. As after all, he has got 18 wickets so far this series which is very impressive. But your comment seems to be implying that Herath is a better bowler than Swann. I think you'll find there is seldom few people who would agree with you. All it takes is a quick comparison of each bowlers career stats and its clear who the superior spinner is.

  • Black_Rider on April 6, 2012, 20:16 GMT

    @Lord.emsworth::Great comment buddy....He is the real hero here....And by the way to all the people saying Ajmal or Swann is the best....I don't care who is the best.And i think most of the people don't care either.Murali and Warne are the BEST and amoung the current spinners no one will ever touch the LEGANDS......

  • Trickstar on April 6, 2012, 20:15 GMT

    @Perera32 Randy you don't have to make multiple accounts just to agree with yourself,LOL.

  • JG2704 on April 6, 2012, 19:59 GMT

    @pradeep_dealwis on (April 06 2012, 18:12 PM GMT) And even if you are right , I'm sure SL have never won matches where they have had a big decision go in their favour. Learn some humility.

  • JG2704 on April 6, 2012, 19:59 GMT

    @Perera32 on (April 06 2012, 18:15 PM GMT) Thank you once more for your balanced words of wisdom. It is always good to get verification from a cricket expert on whether comments are correct or incorrect

  • Lord.emsworth on April 6, 2012, 19:46 GMT

    England can only win from here. SL at the most can hang on for an unlikely draw depending how long MJ and Mathews will last and then if the other Jayawardene and the tail can cling on for dear life. A lot of talk about Swann... but people forget Herath. In Englands 460 he took 6 wkts but they went by largely unoticed by most. Add this to his earlier tally in Galle and you see who's the best of the spinners both sides.

  • MaruthuDelft on April 6, 2012, 18:34 GMT

    Go England Go. Win This. Swan Marvellous.

  • csowmi7 on April 6, 2012, 18:17 GMT

    Swann is definitely the second best spin bowler in the world at the moment. Ajmal is still ahead of Swann though. I mean that guy produces magic. Swann's greatest challenge will come in India though where the batsman are awesome at playing spin. But this will also be an opportunity for him to pick up wickets as India are without Dravid while the other players are sourly out of form. Most likely he will be bowling to inexperienced youngsters like Rohit Sharma and Rahane.

  • Perera32 on April 6, 2012, 18:15 GMT

    @RandyOZ: You're absoloutley correct. Same with Strauss and Pieterson, haven't scored anything in the last 9 innings, then slogs a couple of sixes and whoah some say (especially Skysports commentators) it's the best test innings they've ever seen.

  • pradeep_dealwis on April 6, 2012, 18:12 GMT

    Another SL Vs Eng series tainted by umpiring controversy. Remember Eng won the 2001 series in SL because of the umpiring. Both sides got it bad but it was AT LEAST 2:1 in favour of Eng, maybe more. And the following tour of Eng was bad for SL as well, horrid umpiring in 2002. Though Eng would have won that series anyways, but not that easily.

  • brittop on April 6, 2012, 18:03 GMT

    Guys I don't know why you bother to engage with RandyOz and Jonesy2 - they never say anything serious.

  • maddy20 on April 6, 2012, 17:58 GMT

    Don't mean to burst the bubble but 2 of the 6 wickets are tailenders Randiv and Prasad. So England still have to contend with the two Jayawardenes and Mathews. Considering the fact that Herath is no mug with the bat either, SL are well poised to get a 150+ lead which will be enough for them to save this test.

  • on April 6, 2012, 17:39 GMT

    @RandyOz....Swan started playing very late...even in such short time his wicket tally is impressive....not everyone has the privilege to start playing from age of 16 and pile records.

  • cricketeria on April 6, 2012, 17:37 GMT

    I'm expecting England to win here. Good to see Swann get more wickets, and always fun to see ashes banter here hahah. In that spirit, uh...Swann will dominate Tendulkar. Ok commenters, go!

  • Long-Leg on April 6, 2012, 17:31 GMT

    @George Matt & rahulcricket007: I think England will manage a win in India and they may even take the series, but even if they don't the difference between England and India is that England care about losing at test cricket away from home while India don't.

  • The_bowlers_Holding on April 6, 2012, 17:27 GMT

    I watched most of the game today and it was tough going with sensible gritty batting, I was beginning to think the win was slipping away but that Swann over swung it our way; the betting had changed to have the draw favourite but England are odds on again now. It wouldn't be the same without RandyOz and his inane comments he was slating Anderson earlier in this test and highlighting that Pattinson and Cummins had superior averages, they have played 4 and 1 tests respectively (it may have been Jones2 although I suspect they are one and the same and work in a Walkabout in Essex). Rahulcricket got his customary pro super team India comment in but somehow failed to get a Sachin stat in to the mix. A fresh Jimmy will take wickets in the morning with Swann at the other end and a target of around 80-100 will be got. The bowlers deserve a win after playing consistently well all winter, and so do I after endless early alarm calls to watch online.

  • vallavarayar on April 6, 2012, 17:19 GMT

    By the way, what exactly is the reason Sri Lanka has Lahiru Thirimanne in the lne-up? Not to bat, certainly?!

  • sheila_4 on April 6, 2012, 16:38 GMT

    @RandyOz - ludicrous criticism of Swann. Also an excellent decision by Strauss to give Swann an over with a relatively new ball. That was a masterstroke by the England captain.

  • hhillbumper on April 6, 2012, 16:32 GMT

    Randy Oz.You and Jonesey 2 bring a warm smile to all our faces. For a country that produces all time great announcements every other second it is a bit rich.Your offie is good though ain't he

  • 5wombats on April 6, 2012, 16:25 GMT

    For Pete's sake @Randyoz give it up. "One good Game", eh? What about Swann V Aus at Lords 2009 (4/87) and what about Swann V Aus at Oval 2009 (8/158) and what about Swann V Aus at Adelaide 2010 (7/161). Forgot about those THREE did you? Can't think why.... Here in SL Swann has 14 wickets at 23 with the power to add. Bet you wish Australia had a spin bowler, eh? In fact, bet you wish Australia had a bowler, period. And a batsman....

  • rahulcricket007 on April 6, 2012, 16:24 GMT

    @GEORGE MATT . INDIA IN CRISIS ? LOL . AT HOME WE ARE INVINCIBLES .AST LOST A SERIES AT HOME IN 2004 .

  • sheila_4 on April 6, 2012, 16:22 GMT

    Superb grit and determination by England to prise out 6 wickets on a batsman-friendly pitch, in searing heat, and with SL playing for the draw. A bit more work to be done tomorrow, but hopefully England can press home their advantage for a well-deserved victory and re-assert their No 1 ranking!!

  • Rahulbose on April 6, 2012, 16:11 GMT

    On these slow wickets, spinners always use the new ball. Srl did as much in the last test match and mentioned that strategy at the press conference. So not sure what you mean by Swann not being the expected threat. With early morning moisture there is good chance he will wrap up the innings in the first hour tomorrow.

  • RandyOZ on April 6, 2012, 15:57 GMT

    Watch out, Swann after one good game, on a rank turner, after a bunch of complete and utter failures, will be crowned the greatest spinner ever by the English. Definitely time for an OBE, I mean he already has a whopping 172 wickets at 32 years of age, not to mention a best-selling book.

  • jmcilhinney on April 6, 2012, 15:53 GMT

    This game is very interestingly poised. Although he didn't as much out of the old ball as I'm sure he'd like, Swann had another very good day. He really should have have six wickets. Maybe he was a little lucky to get Dilshan. I'm sure that there's plenty of SL fans who'll swear he didn't hit it and I'd say that it's better than even money that he didn't but, quite frankly, there is simply no way to be sure. He was given out so he's out. SL are six down but two of those wickets are tail-enders so they're in a slightly better position than they appear. Well done to SL for a fighting innings, particularly Prasad, a responsible Dilshan, MJ and Samarweera. If England can get those last four wickets before lunch then they'd be favourites. Any longer than that and things will get very sticky at best. Nothing is certain but I think that they've moved past getting bowled out for 70. If they need to score quickly then I wonder if KP might be promoted.

  • on April 6, 2012, 15:49 GMT

    i think this was englands best chance to win in subcontinent...not just because they had a good team but also the opposition were weak...srilanka are srong on home ground but nowhere near strong enough when they had murli...india are also in a crisis....pakistan are a developing team but england got thrashed by them... if england dont manage a win in india then they will be no different than india..

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  • on April 6, 2012, 15:49 GMT

    i think this was englands best chance to win in subcontinent...not just because they had a good team but also the opposition were weak...srilanka are srong on home ground but nowhere near strong enough when they had murli...india are also in a crisis....pakistan are a developing team but england got thrashed by them... if england dont manage a win in india then they will be no different than india..

  • jmcilhinney on April 6, 2012, 15:53 GMT

    This game is very interestingly poised. Although he didn't as much out of the old ball as I'm sure he'd like, Swann had another very good day. He really should have have six wickets. Maybe he was a little lucky to get Dilshan. I'm sure that there's plenty of SL fans who'll swear he didn't hit it and I'd say that it's better than even money that he didn't but, quite frankly, there is simply no way to be sure. He was given out so he's out. SL are six down but two of those wickets are tail-enders so they're in a slightly better position than they appear. Well done to SL for a fighting innings, particularly Prasad, a responsible Dilshan, MJ and Samarweera. If England can get those last four wickets before lunch then they'd be favourites. Any longer than that and things will get very sticky at best. Nothing is certain but I think that they've moved past getting bowled out for 70. If they need to score quickly then I wonder if KP might be promoted.

  • RandyOZ on April 6, 2012, 15:57 GMT

    Watch out, Swann after one good game, on a rank turner, after a bunch of complete and utter failures, will be crowned the greatest spinner ever by the English. Definitely time for an OBE, I mean he already has a whopping 172 wickets at 32 years of age, not to mention a best-selling book.

  • Rahulbose on April 6, 2012, 16:11 GMT

    On these slow wickets, spinners always use the new ball. Srl did as much in the last test match and mentioned that strategy at the press conference. So not sure what you mean by Swann not being the expected threat. With early morning moisture there is good chance he will wrap up the innings in the first hour tomorrow.

  • sheila_4 on April 6, 2012, 16:22 GMT

    Superb grit and determination by England to prise out 6 wickets on a batsman-friendly pitch, in searing heat, and with SL playing for the draw. A bit more work to be done tomorrow, but hopefully England can press home their advantage for a well-deserved victory and re-assert their No 1 ranking!!

  • rahulcricket007 on April 6, 2012, 16:24 GMT

    @GEORGE MATT . INDIA IN CRISIS ? LOL . AT HOME WE ARE INVINCIBLES .AST LOST A SERIES AT HOME IN 2004 .

  • 5wombats on April 6, 2012, 16:25 GMT

    For Pete's sake @Randyoz give it up. "One good Game", eh? What about Swann V Aus at Lords 2009 (4/87) and what about Swann V Aus at Oval 2009 (8/158) and what about Swann V Aus at Adelaide 2010 (7/161). Forgot about those THREE did you? Can't think why.... Here in SL Swann has 14 wickets at 23 with the power to add. Bet you wish Australia had a spin bowler, eh? In fact, bet you wish Australia had a bowler, period. And a batsman....

  • hhillbumper on April 6, 2012, 16:32 GMT

    Randy Oz.You and Jonesey 2 bring a warm smile to all our faces. For a country that produces all time great announcements every other second it is a bit rich.Your offie is good though ain't he

  • sheila_4 on April 6, 2012, 16:38 GMT

    @RandyOz - ludicrous criticism of Swann. Also an excellent decision by Strauss to give Swann an over with a relatively new ball. That was a masterstroke by the England captain.

  • vallavarayar on April 6, 2012, 17:19 GMT

    By the way, what exactly is the reason Sri Lanka has Lahiru Thirimanne in the lne-up? Not to bat, certainly?!