Hundred eludes Hales as luck deserts Sri Lanka
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.