Saturday 16 December 2017

Morgan leads batting revival to steady England


Derek Pringle

England's batsmen found themselves in their first contest since the Perth Test, though the challenge at Lord's yesterday came as much from the conditions as Sri Lanka's bowlers.

Some, Alastair Cook, Eoin Morgan and Matt Prior, managed to thrive while others, Andrew Strauss, Kevin Pietersen and Jonathan Trott, went cheaply, though Pietersen was the agent of his own downfall after perishing to a poor shot.

Teams do not often put their opponents into bat at Lord's under azure skies, so the pitch, well-grassed with a tinge of green, was obviously expected to misbehave. It certainly did enough off the seam in the morning to challenge temperament and technique, two things at which Cook and Ian Bell, but not Pietersen, excelled. Timing is everything in sport and by the afternoon, when Morgan and Prior had both made hay, the conditions had become benign and England moved on to 342 for six at the close.

Cook and Bell were superb in putting on 108 for the fourth wicket. Coming together in the eighth over after Pietersen's dismissal for two had left England reeling on 22 for three, they simply oozed the class and character to get their side back into the match.

If Cook's exit on 96 was an error borne of presumption, there was everything wrong with Pietersen's dismissal; tactically, technically, and temperamentally.

When he came on, Morgan was quick to loft Rangana Herath back over his head for four and then a six by the same route into the pavilion.

Morgan went on to do the same to Tillakaratne Dilshan, when he brought his off-breaks to bear, and a second Test hundred looked a formality until Suranga Lakmal had him lbw with the second new ball.

Prior also played with great freedom, cover driving pace and spin alike with grace and power as he and Morgan added 101 valuable runs to ensure England, wobbling horribly after the first 30 minutes, had taken the opening day. (© Daily Telegraph, London)

England 1st Innings

Strauss lbw b Welegedara 4

Cook c Maharoof b Fernando 96

Trott lbw b Lakmal 2

Pietersen c Dilshan b Lakmal 2

Bell c Paranavitana b Welegedara 52

Morgan lbw b Lakmal 79

Prior not out 73

Broad not out 17

Extras 9nb 3w 3b 2lb 17

Total for 6 wkts (88.0 ovs) 342

FoW: 1-5; 2-18 3-22; 4-130; 5-201; 6-302 Morgan

Bowling: Welegedara 18.0 4 65 2; Lakmal 19.0 2 79 3; Maharoof 17.0 5 57 0; Fernando 13.0 2 57 1; Herath 14.0 1 49 0; Dilshan 7.0 1 30 0.

Irish Independent

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