Woakes leads way as England take 128-run lead
LONDON—James Anderson and Stuart Broad became the most prolific Test opening bowling partnership in his-tory as Sri Lanka were dismissed for 288, a first-innings deficit of 128, by tea on the third day of the final Investec Test at Lord’s.
When Anderson had Kusal Perera caught behind off a bottom edge, attempting to pull, their combined tally as an opening partnership was 494 wickets, one more than Wasim Akram and Waqar Younis (although at a higher aver-age) and ahead of other notables on the list: Curtly Ambrose and Courtney Walsh, Glenn McGrath and Jason Gil-lespie, and Alan Donald and Shaun Pollock.
The statistic adorned a Lord’s Test Saturday which swung loyally towards England, as a place of such grand tradi-tions must presumably feel obliged to do on the occasion of the Queen’s 90th birthday. Sri Lanka had approached the third morning in good heart but, by lunch, they were obliterated: six down and still trailing by 198 runs, hopes of a consolation victory all but extinguished.
England’s one concern was a precautionary hospital X-ray for their captain, Alastair Cook, who was struck on the knee while taking evasive action against Perera, fielding at silly point for the offspin of Moeen Ali.
Joe Root, England’s stand-in captain during the afternoon session, did not have immediate success as Sri Lanka’s eighthwicket pair of Perera and Rangana Herath made merry in a stand of 71 in 17 overs, against old ball and new. Perera, back in the Sri Lanka side after overturning drugs allegations, produced some typically emphatic blows and Herath offered good support, chancing his arm and indulging in some puffed-out cheeks fist-pumping with his partner with an air of mild relief.
As Root had to resist a headstrong appeal from Broad for a review of a refused lbw appeal against Herath, and then was spoken to by the umpires regarding Anderson, who indulged in a behind-the-hands conversation at slip (al-ways a sign of trouble afoot), he must have been anxious for news that Cook was fit and well and eager to resume his captaincy duties. Instead, he was still off the field as Sri Lanka’s lower order crumbled. Broad caused Herath to chop on, Perera followed, Suranga Lakmal edged Anderson low to second slip, and Chris Woakes followed his highest Test score with a third wicket when Shaminda Eranga edged the first ball of his spell to James Vince at third slip.
Sri Lanka’s visions at start of play of conceding more than 400 in the first innings and then winning the Test, as they did at The Oval in their Muttiah Muralitharan-inspired 1998 victory, would have been encouraged by reaching the close on the second day 162 runs to the good and Dimuth Karunaratne the only casualty.
Within 7.3 overs, those ambitions were dampened, Kusal Mendis, Kaushal Silva and Angelo Mathews all des-patched as England’s pace attack regained the initiative.
Woakes’ first ball of the previous day had brought about the Jonny Bairstow howler - and further examination of his wicketkeeping role. This time Woakes enjoyed immediate success, winning an lbw with the first ball of the second over as he rammed a delivery down the slope into Mendis’ pads.
Woakes had been the most insistent of England’s attack on the previous evening and that was enough for him to start the day alongside Broad. There was enough in the air to encourage the bowlers that it would be a more even contest and they pounded a good length - a fuller length than on the previous day from the outset. Silva failed to add to his overnight 79, his edge to Bairstow in Broad’s third over of the morning extending a re-markable record in which he has been caught at the wicket in all nine of his Test innings in England. Repetition around off stump is all that the bowlers have needed.
England’s energy also extended to Bairstow. When Mathews thick-edged Broad to third man, Alex Hales and Root, giving chase, were shocked to find the sight of a red-headed retriever tearing past them and diving full-length in wicketkeeping pads to save the boundary. Such chases are part of Bairstow’s make-up and his pleasure in mildly embarrassing two of his team-mates was evident.
Mathews’ pugnacity was needed to restore Sri Lanka’s ambition, but he was defeated by extra bounce from Woakes, going wide on the crease, and Root, quite close at second slip, held a good catch. It was a delivery that encapsulated Woakes’ improvement, a bowler of good habits and decent action now capable of something a little more unsettling.
Dinesh Chandimal was equally uncertain, beginning with an inside-edged four against Woakes and almost scooped up at second slip by Root when Anderson made an unaccustomed late arrival into the attack.
It was not long before Chandimal fell, too, lbw to a fullish delivery from Steven Finn and unsuccessfully reviewing in the hope that the ball might have faded down the slope past leg stump.—AFP