Hun­dred eludes Hales as luck deserts Sri Lanka

Pakistan Observer - - SPORTS -

LON­DON—Alex Hales is get­ting closer to a trea­sured maiden Test hun­dred, but he will have to wait a while yet. He was on 94, only six runs short, when he fell only 10 min­utes be­fore tea on the fourth day at Lord’s, try­ing to turn An­gelo Mathews qui­etly on the leg side and fall­ing lbw.

Hales re­viewed um­pire Rod Tucker’s de­ci­sion, but it was with a wan ex­pres­sion from a man fear­ing the worst. Ball track­ing tech­nol­ogy held that the ball would have struck the top of leg stump.

With two 80s to his name in the se­ries, Hales can at least con­sole him­self that he has done much to im­plant him­self at the top of the or­der, his com­posed, if oc­ca­sion­ally for­tu­nate, in­nings pro­vid­ing more ev­i­dence that he can suc­cess­fully ad­just to the de­mands of the five-day game.

Eng­land pushed on to­wards a dec­la­ra­tion on the fourth day of the fi­nal In­vestec Test af­ter rain re­moved the morn­ing ses­sion. At 206 for 6, they led by 334.

Rain pre­vented a start un­til 2.40pm, but with four-and-a-half hours, and 59.5 overs, for Eng­land to build on their overnight lead of 237, there was still am­ple time for them to force the vic­tory that would bring them a 3-0 clean sweep in the se­ries.

Hales’ com­po­sure held Eng­land’s sec­ond in­nings to­gether, even if he was not with­out for­tune. On 58, he suf­fered a replica of Joe Root’s dis­missal the pre­vi­ous day - his off stump hit by a shooter from Nuwan Pradeep, only for um­pire Tucker to call noball. TV re­plays sug­gested that Pradeep’s heel was be­hind the line on first im­pact, the um­pire per­haps be­ing fooled by the slip­ping of Pradeep’s foot on land­ing.

Un­der­stand­able com­plaints that in­ter­na­tional um­pires were ig­nor­ing re­peated noballs so that they could con­cen­trate on events at the busi­ness end of the pitch seems to have caused a re­cent re­assess­ment of their ap­proach, but Tucker’s no-ball call for such a bor­der­line de­liv­ery - a wrong call as it turned out - will not al­lay con­cerns.

Sri Lanka also thought they had dis­missed him on 45 when Shaminda Eranga brought one back to strike him on the top of the pad but um­pire S Ravi’s not-out de­ci­sion was up­held by virtue of an “um­pires’ call” de­ci­sion.

The breaks in Hales’ favour were fast adding up. In reach­ing 41 by Satur­day’s close, he might have fallen on 19, if Dimuth Karunaratne had clung on to a low chance to his left at sec­ond slip and again on 39, shortly be­fore the close, when he glanced Pradeep down the leg side only for Di­nesh Chandi­mal to grass the chance.

Nev­er­the­less, there were dom­i­nant mo­ments, too, how­ever, none bet­ter than when he con­quered Ran­gana Herath’s over-the-wicket at­tack into the rough by hoist­ing the left-arm spin­ner straight for six, then sweep­ing his next de­liv­ery for four.

Eng­land also lost the night­watch­man Steven Finn, lbw to Eranga, clear­ing the way for Alas­tair Cook, the cap­tain, to walk in at No 7. Cook’s place at No 7 was purely hap­pen­stance, and not due to reg­u­la­tions lim­it­ing a player’s place in the bat­ting or­der af­ter in­jury, on the grounds that his mishap while field­ing at silly point was re­garded as an ex­ter­nal in­jury.

Cook showed no ill ef­fects although he, too, flirted with the va­garies of the re­view sys­tem. On 6, Herath spun one back to hit his thigh, play­ing back, but re­plays showed the ball had struck him out­side the line. And then, in Herath’s very next over, he was struck in line of off stump by an­other sharp spin­ner, but this Sri Lanka er­ro­neously chose not to ap­peal the orig­i­nal not-out de­ci­sion. HawkEye would have sent the Eng­land cap­tain on his way for 11.—AFP

Alex Hales was given a life when the de­liv­ery was called no-ball dur­ing Eng­land vs Sri Lanka, 3rd In­vestec Test at Lord’s on Sun­day.

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