Saturday 17 March 2018

Cricket: Strauss form a worry as England head for draw

Stephen Brenkley

The chances of a positive result in the second Test between England and Sri Lanka at Lord's today are between slim and none.

But then slim had left town when similar circumstances applied in Cardiff last week and the match still finished in a rousing climax when England somehow went 1-0 ahead in the series.

Since scientists have long since proved beyond doubt that lightning can strike twice, perhaps a draw is far from a foregone conclusion. Perhaps. After a shortened fourth day, on which play was delayed for more than two hours and interrupted again later, England led by 156 runs. Last Monday, they bowled out Sri Lanka for 82.

It is unlikely that Andrew Strauss will contemplate a bold declaration which gives the tourists the prospect of levelling the series, because he will want to protect his lead. That leaves the other improbable option of Sri Lanka bowling England out in their second innings by tea and charging for victory. However, without Muttiah Muralitharan, they continue to struggle to get wickets.

England took the last seven of Sri Lanka's first-innings wickets in 20 overs yesterday and then finished the day on 149-2, largely unimpeded by Sri Lanka's bowlers.

After the early dismissal of Strauss, it was inevitable that Alastair Cook and Jonathan Trott should both score fifties in a partnership of 117. It was much less easy to foresee that Trott would be out for 58, yielding his wicket in uncharacteristic fashion by playing over a dipping delivery from the left-arm spinner Rangana Herath, which brought in Kevin Pietersen.

Whoops of delight greeted his negotiation of his first two balls from Herath, one of the breed which has been his nemesis and the volume increased when he nudged a single to get him off the mark.

Pietersen has been under the microscope, but he may shortly either be relieved or have to make room on the slide for Strauss.

After garnering two hundreds for Middlesex last month, Strauss could not have wished to come into this series in better form. So far his scores have been 20, 4 and 0 and yesterday he lasted two balls.

He was unfortunate that both of these from Chanaka Welegedara were searing late swingers, but that is what openers have to expect.

It was his 22nd dismissal to left-arm pace, his second in this match, and the charge that he has a defective method against them will be difficult to counter. Strauss has plenty of credit, but even double Ashes-winning captains need runs. (© Independent News Service)

England v Sri Lanka, Day Five, live, Sky Sports 1, 11.0

Irish Independent

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