This has become far too familiar a sight for English cricket in the recent times: the top border collapses every now and then and it is left to the lower order to bail the team out of trouble.
Credit must be given to the English lower order for the consistency with which it has performed. What England would be much happier with though is if their top order also starts achieving the same consistency. This would make Root & Co a well and truly balance side. A side which can dominate attacks irrespective of the conditions.
Early blows from Sri Lankan spinners left England rattled at 89 for four at one point. It was only opener Rory Burns who looked a bit assured against the spinning ball.
Just when a counter-attacking knock from Jos Buttler seemed to steady the ship, some quick wickets post lunch left England reeling at 171 for seven.
However, it was again the English lower order and mainly Sam Curran who snatched momentum away from the Lankans by stitching a 45-run partnership with Adil Rashid. After Rashid got out, Curran changed gears and scored some quick runs in his 60-run partnership with James Anderson.
The last five wickets of England added 151 runs as opposed to 134 by the top five wickets. This not only helped shift momentum in England's favour but also frustrated the Sri Lankan bowlers. Dilruwan Perera was the highest wicket-taker for Sri Lanka, bagging four wickets. Malinda Pushpakumara, replacing Rangana Herath, picked up three.
At the end, the Lankans were left facing a tricky period of 11 overs which they negotiated for the loss of Kaushal Silva's wicket.
The pitch is offering a lot of turn. As England have three decent spinners in Moeen Ali, Adil Rashid and Jack Leach in their ranks, a first innings lead can be a far-fetched task for Sri Lanka.
Let's have a look at the playing XIs of both teams.
Sri Lanka- Dimuth Karunaratne, Kaushal Silva, Dhananjaya de Silva, Kusal Mendis, Roshen Silva, Angelo Mathews, Niroshan Dickwella, Dilruwan Perera, Suranga Lakmal, Akila Dananjaya, Malinda Pushpakumara
England- Rory Burns, Keaton Jennings, Ben Stokes, Joe Root, Jos Buttler, Moeen Ali, Ben Foakes, Sam Curran, Adil Rashid, Jack Leach, James Anderson
Cricket Betting Tips and Match Predictions*
Who will win? – England
Top Batsman (Runs Scored) –Dimuth Karunaratne (Sri Lanka), Jos Buttler (England)
Top Bowler (Wickets taken) – Dilruwan Perera (Sri Lanka), Moeen Ali (England)
Most Fours – Niroshan Dickwella (Sri Lanka), Ben Foakes (England)
Team Scores Batting at the end of Day 2– Sri Lanka 200+ all out, England 20+ for 1
*NB these predictions may be changed nearer the start of the match once the final starting teams have been announced and we will be running ‘In–Play’ features soon, so stay tuned.
©Cricket World 2018