Sri Lanka vs. England, 2nd Test – Day 2, A Swing In Power?

It is always difficult to judge a game after the first day and so this has proved again today. England would have marginally been happier with the outcome of Day 1, especially after finding themselves in a bind again with their batting with only Sam Curran and Jos Buttler taking the attack to Sri Lanka and leading them to what they hoped would be an above par score. As they headed into Day 2 with a wearing pitch even after 1 day, a brittle Sri Lankan batting unit and 3 in-form spin bowlers, England would have been hoping to emerge with a vital first innings lead. That this didn’t would have been a source of great frustration for England.

England had an indifferent start to the day, with the only wicket to fall being that of the night-watchman. It did appear that England were trying to bowl a little too full or were hoping for some kind of magic ball to grip the pitch and spin prodigiously rather than look to bowl in good areas and get the Sri Lankan batsmen out through skill and patience. Indeed it took some divine intervention from Ben Stokes in the field to finally break through the resistance of the Sri Lankan batsmen with the first being a superb run out with only one stump to aim at and the 2nd through an outrageous catch at slip off the bowling of Leach. It has been debated just what Stokes is bringing to the team with his relative poor form with bat and ball and the emergence of Sam Curran; however he is still one of the few England players that can really spark something in the field. These were timely dismissals as England looked like they were a team on the verge of panicking and this was followed up by some excellent bowling from the much maligned (not here) Adil Rashid who bowled a testing spell that took both the wickets of Matthews and Mendis and gave England a shot at the lower order with a decent lead still to preserve.

So with Sri Lanka now 165-6 and staring down the barrel much as England did on Day 1, their lower order batted with some guts and not little skill to frustrate the tourists and carve away at the England lead. Sri Lanka led by Roshen Silva and ably assisted by first Dickwella and then Dhananjaya batted in very much the way I expected them to at the start of the tour. The English spinners suddenly looked less potent whilst the Sri Lankan batsmen milked them around the field and consistently put away the bad ball to first catch up and then surpass England’s lead on what is a tricky pitch and one that is only going to get more difficult. When Sri Lanka were finally bowled out (supposedly the first time since 1976 that an English seamer didn’t take a wicket) with a priceless lead of 46, the momentum had swung immensely and now Sri Lanka were in the box set moving into Day 3. The only slight tarnish on the Sri Lankan batting was when Marais Erasmus decided to penalize Silva for intentional non grounding of the bat and hence awarded 5 runs to England as way of punishment. Personally I think this was very harsh, but England won’t care a jot, in such a tight game 5 runs could be the difference between a loss and a victory. There was also the slightly bizarre sight of Jack Leach padding up and walking out to open the order as night-watchman for the final over, though he’s still probably a better Test opener than Nick Knight ever was.

After 2 days of the Test, we are now basically in a ‘one innings match’, with England hoping to erode their deficit without too much damage and then look to set Sri Lanka something over 200 on a 4th innings pitch. It will be interesting to see how England play over the next day, as one feels that a collapse is just around the corner with this England side especially on a pitch that is already taking a lot of turn. Day 3 will go some way in deciding the match, but either way it is refreshing to see a tightly fought Test match, especially after Sri Lanka were so comprehensively beaten in the First Test.

Thoughts and comments on the game below please.

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9 thoughts on “Sri Lanka vs. England, 2nd Test – Day 2, A Swing In Power?

  1. pktroll (@pktroll) Nov 15, 2018 / 5:50 pm

    My guess is that we might see a horror show in which Sri Lanka only have to chase 100 or so. The upper order look out of sorts with Root not looking in touch at all. We can’t keep relying on the lower order, especially with more turn likely to be on show.

    Like

    • Sean Nov 15, 2018 / 6:31 pm

      Absolutely. If I was a betting man I would definitely lay a decent lump of cash on that happening. Seen way too many horrendous English batting collapses in the third innings on the sub-continent..

      Like

      • pktroll (@pktroll) Nov 16, 2018 / 11:04 am

        Lol, this shows why I don’t gamble very much! I could almost claim that one………Only Root’s 4th ton away from home and his first for a couple of years and 13 away tests.

        Liked by 1 person

  2. Benny Nov 15, 2018 / 9:21 pm

    It is interesting. If we stop worrying about who picks up the pretty glass bowl or whatever is the prize, we’re watching a good battle in SL. Also, we have an opportunity to watch English spinners (yes, English spinners) growing, a couple of openers, not called called Cook, developing their game, a real keeper, and finally, Buttler making me suspect he may indeed be very talented.

    So, yes, there’s some interest in this series

    Liked by 1 person

  3. oreston Nov 16, 2018 / 1:53 am

    Sending out a nightwatchman opener is not the mark of a team confident in the resilience of its top order. Still, I suppose it means that whenever Burns or Leach falls Jennings will come in at three, followed presumably by Root at four. That will enable Stokes to move back into a more sane middle order slot, enabling the short-lived and rather silly number three experiment to be laid to rest (doubtless in the hope that not very many people noticed it in the first place). So maybe that’s the plan.
    Who will the fickle hand of fate choose to bat at first drop in the next game? Stay tuned and expect only the unexpected…

    Like

    • OscarDaBosca Nov 16, 2018 / 7:00 am

      I disagree, but only because there was 1 over remaining in the day. If he gets out, stumps are called, and if he stays in then all good.
      It gave Jennings and Burns the chance for a proper rest after a long day in the field.
      Normally I would agree that nightwatchmen are pointless, but for 1 over they are a worthy tactical choice.

      Like

  4. d'Arthez Nov 16, 2018 / 5:40 am

    It would be remotely interesting if the toss did not dictate the result in Sri Lanka 90% of the time.
    For the sake of comparison, a win is less than 50% likely to any team that wins the toss in England. So Root is definitely on for Man of the series for his stellar performances before the start of the matches.

    Third innings are the best for batting at this ground, so expect England to pile up the statistically expected 350 odd or so. And then, expect Sri Lanka to be skittled out on a minefield. Utterly exciting when it is so utterly predictable, huh?

    It is interesting that Sri Lanka has relied on the same strategy for 3+ years and yet the match referees have consistently failed to notice it.

    Like

  5. dlpthomas Nov 16, 2018 / 6:21 am

    England in a bit of trouble now. I wonder if we’re getting a bit carried away with the sweep? (at least play your self in first)

    Like

  6. Riverman21 Nov 16, 2018 / 10:57 am

    Vaughan’s roulette punditry actually comes up with a valid point about burning reviews early in the innings.

    Like

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