Rashid salutes dou­ble act with Stokes

The Herald on Sunday - - SPORT -

ADIL Rashid toasted his gamechang­ing dou­ble act with Ben Stokes as Eng­land moved a step closer to white­wash­ing Sri Lanka on their own turf.

The tourists’ hopes of forc­ing a 3-0 clean sweep in Colombo ap­peared to be with­er­ing on the se­cond af­ter­noon as Dimuth Karunaratne and Dhanan­jaya de Silva piled on the big­gest stand of the en­tire se­ries, putting on 142 for the se­cond wicket, with Eng­land skip­per Joe Root drop­ping both men at slip and the oc­ca­sional mis-hit fall­ing frus­trat­ingly safe in scorch­ing af­ter­noon heat.

But Root fi­nally found the right com­bi­na­tion when he paired Rashid’s sub­tle leg-spin with the pound­ing in­ten­sity of Stokes – a part­ner­ship that left the bat­ting side feel­ing for the turn­ing ball at one end and cow­er­ing from a bar­rage of short stuff at the other.

From a se­cure 173 for one they were dis­missed for 240, with eight wick­ets tum­bling after tea as Rashid scooped ca­reer-best fig­ures of five for 49, as well as a rare run-out.

Stokes was just as im­pres­sive, eas­ily pro­duc­ing the best spell of pace bowl­ing in the past three Tests as he took three for 30 in 10 men­ac­ing overs ei­ther side of the in­ter­val.

“It worked out per­fectly, Stokesy at one end bowl­ing nice and ag­gres­sive and me at the other end mix­ing it up, bowl­ing my vari­a­tions. It all hap­pened very quickly,” he said after Eng­land closed on three with­out loss and an un­ex­pected 99-run lead.

“It was a sim­ple plan for me: to be at­tack­ing, bowl my vari­a­tions, try and get the ball spin­ning both ways, get the bats­men play­ing cer­tain shots. Stokesy had his own plan, be ag­gres­sive, run in, rough them up.

“We all know what Ben brings to the ta­ble, he’s a match-win­ner, a world-class per­former. He came out there with a cer­tain game plan and just gave it his all. At the other end I was just try­ing to mix it up and I got my re­wards as well.

“They played ex­cep­tion­ally well be­fore but we had a pos­i­tive mind­set and knew if we stick to our plan things would change.”

Three of Rashid’s vic­tims were caught by Keaton Jen­nings at short­leg, in­clud­ing a stun­ning one-handed grab to see off Roshen Silva.

Jen­nings also called on re­serves of an­tic­i­pa­tion and brav­ery to catch Danushka Gu­nathi­laka off Jack Leach, fol­low­ing the bats­man down the track to gather a flick that most field­ers would have watched from the safety of a de­fen­sive crouch.

After two su­perb re­flex ef­forts in the se­cond Test, Jen­nings’ fast hands are be­com­ing a crit­i­cal part of the Eng­land’s win­ning for­mula.

“As a spin­ner it’s nice hav­ing him there, we’re happy!” said Rashid. “He’s made a big dif­fer­ence and he’s proved he’s an ex­cep­tional short-leg fielder. He reads the game well, he’s alert, he prac­tices hard in the morn­ing and he gets his re­wards.”

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