Cook wicket puts SL in as­cen­dancy

Pakistan Observer - - SPORTS -

LON­DON-ntic­i­pa­tion of a boun­ti­ful bat­ting day at Lord’s came to naught for Eng­land as Sri Lanka took five wick­ets by tea in their most con­certed bowl­ing dis­play of the se­ries. Without Alas­tair Cook’s 85, Eng­land would have been in a sorry state and the de­par­ture of the Eng­land cap­tain five min­utes be­fore tea, lbw to a de­liv­ery an­gled in from around the wicket by Nuwan Pradeep, con­firmed Sri Lanka’s su­pe­ri­or­ity.

Whether they could main­tain that su­pe­ri­or­ity un­til the close would rest to a large ex­tent on Jonny Bairstow, the gin­ger en­er­giser, who shared a fifth-wicket stand of 80 in 25 overs with Cook and was 44 not out at the in­ter­val. But Bairstow should have fallen on 11 when Shaminda Eranga spilled an invit­ing chance at mid­wicket off Pradeep, a chance which, if taken, would have left Eng­land 102 for 5.

Cook, the youngest man to reach 10,000 Test match runs, five months ahead of Sachin Ten­dulkar, had been pre­sented with an en­cased sil­ver bat to mark the oc­ca­sion be­fore the start of the fi­nal Test at Lord’s.

The bat so re­ceived, it was time to en­case his mind and make in­roads into the next 10,000. Not for the first time, Eng­land were for­tu­nate for his re­silience. If his fail- ure to log a 29th Test hun­dred came as a sur­prise to many in the ca­pac­ity crowd, his was the steady heartbeat in an ail­ing Eng­land bat­ting line-up with un­com­fort­able ques­tions re­main­ing unan­swered ahead of the Test se­ries against Pak­istan.

Eng­land were 84 for 4 on a sur­face that had promised bat­ting riches when James Vince was bowled by Nuwan Pradeep, push­ing em­phati­cally down the wrong line where­upon his off bail was re­moved from the stumps with the cer­tainty of a kitchen chef slic­ing the veg­eta­bles.

Eranga’s fail­ure to hold Bairstow’s clip off his pads dark­ened Pradeep’s ex­cel­lent day. Two bound­aries for Bairstow in the next four balls sug­gested that the fizz might have been let out of the bot­tle, but it was a fine post-lunch pe­riod by Sri Lanka for all that as Eranga and Lak­mal also passed the out­side edge in a fo­cused dis­play.

Sri Lanka could fi­nally feel the sun on their backs and looked a more con­tented bowl­ing out­fit than they had done in two nither­ing north­ern Tests as they sought to ex­tend a good Lord’s record with a vic­tory in a se­ries also con­ceded af­ter heavy de­feats at Head­in­g­ley and Ch­ester-leStreet.

“The first ses­sion will be cru­cial,” Cook had said, not that he per­son­ally needed any re­mind­ing of the fact in his 129th Test. The pitch looked flat and the weather was set­tled. Pads were buck­led, hel­met donned and once again he set­tled into the rhythms of an English Test sum­mer. At tea, the score­board of 165 for 5 must have had an il­log­i­cal ring about it.

By lunch, Cook had 48 to his name. Sri Lanka’s seam­ers sought to pose ques­tions around off stump but ev­ery time they slipped onto his pads he despatched them with fa­mil­iar au­thor­ity. But oth­ers were less suc­cess­ful - Alex Hales, Nick Comp­ton and Joe Root all per­ish­ing in a man­ner which made Eng­land grate­ful for Cook’s mea­sured tread.

Hales must wish he could set­tle into the sort of nat­u­ral Test rhythm that Cook finds so nat­u­ral. A quicker tempo per­haps but one in which he can make his own mu­sic. He set­tled rea­son­ably enough against the new ball, eas­ing Su­ranga Lak­mal con­fi­dently through the cov­ers and clip­ping Eranga up the hill on a man­i­cured Lord’s out­field.

But An­gelo Mathews, who must have feared the worst when he came on for the 15th over, Eng­land’s 50 al­ready raised, seemed to make him jit­tery. When Ran­gana Herath had his first per­am­bu­la­tion of the in­nings, Hales self-de­struc­ted against the se­cond ball he faced, at­tempt­ing to mow over long-on but the ball in­stead loop­ing gen­tly to first slip where Mathews held the catch.—AFP

Alas­tair Cook was lbw to Nuwan Pradeep for 85, dur­ing Eng­land vs Sri Lanka, 3rd In­vestec Test at Lord’s on Thurs­day.

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