WICKET! Mathews c Root b Leach 71 (Sri Lanka all out 359) England need 74 to win!
Fifer for Leach! Mathews looks to guide his fifth ball down to third man for one, but instead he feathers a catch to Root at one! I’m not sure the light will stick around for that to be sorted tonight, but even England will struggle to ruin this. Imagine if they do though!
136th over: Sri Lanka 359-9 (Mathews 71, Fernando 0) Wood begins his 21st over with some short stuff from around the wicket. It’s hard to tell from norf Landan, but I’m wondering if the light has dropped so maybe he’s getting it in while he can. Mathews, who hasn’t always looked comfy against short stuff, sends the fourth ball to midwicket for one, and again Fernando survives. Surely we’ll shee Shtuart shoon? Anyway, that’s drinks.
at 6.02am EST
135th over: Sri Lanka 358-9 (Mathews 70, Fernando 0) Mathews is into reverse-sweeping stance as Leach releases the ball, sending four through gully; Leach responds by beating the outside edge and appealing for another stumping, but not this time. Mathews eases his fifth delivery behind square on the off side, and Fernando, with two slips and a short leg crowding his personal space, survives the final ball of the over.
134th over: Sri Lanka 353-9 (Mathews 65, Fernando 0) Mathews is looking to go, having a fat swing then refusing a single after pulling a bouncer to deep square. In commentary they’re still re-umpiring the stumping but it’s pretty clear to me that there was nothing behind the line, while back in the middle, Mathews pulls another short one and this time he does take the run, leaving Fernando two balls to see away; he does.
133rd over: Sri Lanka 352-9 (Mathews 64, Fernando 0) Mathews will sure have to go now. Sri Lanka lead by 66, and even England will struggle to collapse for that.
WICKET! Perera st Buttler b Leach 24 (Sri Lanka 352-9)
That’s a great piece of work by Buttler – Sarah Taylor would’ve took that! – and his first stumping in Test cricket! Leach sent down his usual off break but it gripped and spun a bit harder; Buttler appealed for the catch, then noticed the foot moving and removed the bails! Micky Arthur is the opposite of elated but I think that’s a really good decision from the third umpire.
REVIEW IN PROGRESS…
The boot is definitely down, but is any of it behind the line? I’m not sure!
133rd over: Sri Lanka 352-8 (Mathews 64, Perera 24) I wonder if England’s batsmen are re-evaluating their work; those not called Root made 193 between them. But what’s this?! Leach deceives Perera into swishing and missing; Buttler removes the bails and asks the square leg umpire to have a look. The foot looks down and on the line to me, but I can why he thinks it wasn’t….
132nd over: Sri Lanka 351-8 (Mathews 63, Perera 24) It surely won’t be long before we see Broad at Wood’s end; in the tea break, Athers said he’d expect him to play in the next match too, but I wonder if someone who’s struggled with injury will be flogged through five more days in these conditions. He doesn’t look especially delighted out there, and England have gone a little flat; three singles increase the
lead to 65.
131st over: Sri Lanka 343-8 (Mathews 61, Perera 23) So what were Sri Lanka doing in their first innings? When someone who captained and opened for England in the 90s says it’s up there with the worst batting displays he’s ever seen, well, there are fewer higher compliments. Mathews cuts Leach’s first ball for one, then Perera sweeps hard for four; he’s enjoying this. In commentary they suggest Leach go around, but I wonder if he might vary his spin; he seems to bowl a lot of off breaks, when maybe one to go straight on might do the trick.
at 5.39am EST
130th over: Sri Lanka 343-8 (Mathews 60, Perera 19) Hello! There looked to be a hint of reverse in Wood’s last over and out of nowhere he finds some lift, the ball whizzing past the edge just outside off. Next, a bump-ah under which Perera ducks, and four more dots follow to complete a maiden.
“With regard to Kim Thonger’s Hamilton-based Cook tribute,” says Phil Withall, “I have a daughter that is obsessed with that musical and got her to sing the new lyrics. ‘That doesn’t work,’ she told me before copying Kim’s lyrics and saving them to her phone…”
Kids, never satisfied.
129th over: Sri Lanka 343-8 (Mathews 60, Perera 19) The partnership is 29 as Leach begins his 38th over and Mathews plays him sensibly. The fluctuations in fortune today, not just for the teams but for the individuals, have been great, and Leach, who had a miserable morning, encapsulates that. Maiden.
128th over: Sri Lanka 343-8 (Mathews 60, Perera 19) And that good little passage costs Mark Wood’s knees just a little more damage; he returns to the attack in place of Bess, to see his loosener reflected back past him for four; Perera is a helluva number 10 to have. And he sees off the rest of the over comfortably enough.
“Leach has started to find his mojo finally and the ball is turning corners,” reckons Colum Fordham.” The pitch is now a Steinbeckian dustbowl worthy of the American midwest in the Depression. This is going to make for a fascinating contest with Mathews and Perera as they (have to) launch an attack on the England bowlers to set up some sort of total, however meagre. And they have begun their ‘onslaught’ thanks to courageous batsmanship and outrageous good fortune. I think they would have to set England at least 100 to have any chance but our batters are probably just too good.”
Yes, a line-up with SJ S
Broad at 11 is decent, but never overestimate England’s ability to be sensible.
127th over: Sri Lanka 339-8 (Mathews 60, Perera 15) The last six overs have yielded 31 runs and one more arrives when Mathews cuts, then Perera jabs and somehow sends another four between Buttler’s legs. England appeal for leg before but don’t review, and this is a good little passage for the home side who now lead by 53.
126th over: Sri Lanka 333-8 (Mathews 59, Perera 10) Eesh! Mathews tries to turn Bess away and the ball sneaks under his toe-end, megging Buttler and running away for four. I don’t think there was any bat involved, but a clean take and the stumping is there for him; Buttler’s been tidy here, but Sarah Taylor behind the stumps and he’s dead.
125th over: Sri Lanka 328-8 (Mathews 58, Perera 10) “Don’t just let them bowl.” You hear that said of spinners a lot, and these two have said it to each other; Perera shmices Leach’s first ball against the turn and for four. They’re the only runs of the over, but we’ll not be seeing the quantity of maidens that we did in the afternoon.
124th over: Sri Lanka 324-8 (Mathews 58, Perera 6) There you go! Perera twinkles down the track and clatters four over the top and down to long on, for a one-bounce four! Yep, Sri Lanka are looking to score now, and after a single to Perera Matthews reverse-swipes four through point. The lead is 38, and in comms, Sanga reckons a minimum of 150 is necessary.
“Entirely unrelated to the state of this game,” emails Kim Thonger, “I hear persistent rumours that the song My Shot from hit musical Hamilton was in fact inspired by the early life of Alastair ‘Chef’ Cook:
I am not throwin’ away my wicket
I am not throwin’ away my wicket
Hey yo, I’m just like my county
I’m young, scrappy and hungry
And I’m not throwin’ away my wicket
I’ma get a scholarship to Bedford School
I probably shouldn’t brag, but dang, I amaze and astonish
The problem is I got a lot of brains but no polish
I gotta holler just to be heard
With every word, I drop knowledge
I’m a diamond in the rough, a shiny piece of coal
Tryna reach my goal my batting average, unimpeachable
Only nineteen but my mind is older
These St John’s Wood streets get colder, I shoulder
Every burden, every disadvantage
I have learned to manage, I don’t have a bat to brandish
I walk these streets famished
The plan is to fan this spark into a flame
But damn, it’s getting dark, so let me spell out my name
I am the A-L-A-S-T-A-I-R we are meant to be.”
Might I suggest we alter “wicket” to “scalp”?
123rd over: Sri Lanka 315-8 (Mathews 54, Perera 1) Leach and Bess have been really good since lunch, but it was the introduction of the former which really got things going and there are now men around the bat – a slip, a gully and a short leg. Perera has a dart at one, and I think Bairstow puts it down low. Perhaps it didn’t carry but I think it did; perhaps the issue was how close the fielders are standing, necessary to give them a chance of catching but difficult when it comes to actually catching. Perera then gets off the mark with a single, and he can bat, so Sri Lanka needn’t panic quite yet – but it’s in the post.
WICKET! Hasaranga c Root b Leach 12 (Sri Lanka 314-8)
This is great stuff from England! Leach coaxes more turn out of the pitch and Hasaranga has a go, whacking the air for six but edging the ball behind; for a split second it looks like Buttler’s ball, but he’s too close, and Root takes an absolute jazzer, one-handed and shoulder-high. Can England finish this tonight?
122nd over: Sri Lanka 313-7 (Mathews 53, Hasaranga 12) On Friday, we were talking about good stuff we’ve watched, and in bed this morning I remembered that I forgot to recommend the dazzling Giri/Haji – originally on BBC but now on Netflix. Check it if you’ve not already. Anyway, Bess continues and Mathews shoves one to cover than Hasaranga cracks through point for four; that was a very pleasant shot. And have a look! Bess gives one some air so he comes down the track to clout four more back past the bowler!
“God, Test Cricket is the best,” tweets Guy Hornsby. “The subcontinental momentum shifts. The hosts in the thick stuff, then coming back, England’s nerves on chasing a total rising, now a couple of wickets and it’s back to us. Nothing else I know comes close. And we’re only at the start.”
121st over: Sri Lanka 304-7 (Mathews 52, Hasaranga 4) Mathews has a decision to make: does he trust the tail, or does he try to thrash a few while he still can? Hasaranga runs his second ball down for one but his fourth is an absolute jazzer, ripping off the pitch and way past Mathews’ prod. You’d not want to chase many on this, and Mathews increases the target from 17 to 18 with a single behind square on the off side.
at 4.56am EST
Right, off we go again; Leach, whose introduction swung the session, has the globule.
“If Broad does overtake Anderson’s tally,” tweets K Betteley, “and perhaps moves past his average as well which seems possible, do you think history will look back at him as the ‘better’ bowler? Much as I love Broad, not sure that’s anything but madness…”
I know what you mean. The thing about them that’s so beautiful is they have similar attributes but also different attributes, and each makes the other better. In some circumstances I’d prefer one, in others the other.
The clouds that were menacing us earlier have retreated somewhat, so we should be good for some play after the break. There’s a fair chance bad light intervenes somewhere along the line, but England will fancy themselves to break the back of this this evening. See you presently.
120th over: Sri Lanka 302-7 (Mathews 51, Hasaranga 3) Mathews takes a further single behind square on the on side, then Hasaranga prods for one more, and that’s tea. Sri Lanka lead by 16.
The ball was missing the stumps, which on reflection is fair enough – an off spinner bowling over the wicket on a track that’s doing something. Good luck old mate.
120th over: Sri Lanka 300-7 (Mathews 50, Hasaranga 2) Hasaranga, who I meant to note got off the mark in the previous over, takes another to long on, then after an aborted single, Mathews misses with another sweep and it cracks the pad! There’s an appeal, a rejection, and England go upstairs. That looked outish to me.
119th over: Sri Lanka 299-7 (Mathews 50, Hasaranga 1) Leach is all over this and his first ball is a jaffa, drifting through the air then springing off the pitch and beating the edge. Mathews, though, has seen it before and opens the face to glide the single which raises his fifty; he’s such a pro. His knock when Sri Lanka won at Headingley is one of my favourites by a visiting bat, just as Moeen’s, in the sae Test, is one of my favourites my an English bat.
118th over: Sri Lanka 297-7 (Mathews 49, Hasaranga 0) Mathews gets down on one knee to sweep Bess but can only drag the ball onto his pad. The next delivery goes to leg for one, the only run off the over, and England will want to finish this tonight.
117th over: Sri Lanka 296-7 (Mathews 48, Hasaranga 0) Sri Lanka are punkt back in trouble now; they lead by 10 and need at least another hunnert to make a game out of this.
“Was it not the case that Sri Lanka requested Moeen Ali isolates for a longer period, and this has ruled him out of the second Test?’ asks Andrew Benton.
I’m not sure, but England have more or less ruled him out anyway. I don’t know how badly he has corona, but I know the state I was in following my first run after it.
at 4.42am EST
WICKET! Shanaka b Leach 4 (Sri Lanka 296-7)
One brings two! That’s what happens in the subcontinent, slow slow slow, fast! Insert your third cliche here! Leach, coming around, entices Shanaka to come down, deceives him in the flight and yorks him! This is a very fine and potentially matchwinning spell from the England batsman.
at 4.14am EST
116th over: Sri Lanka 294-6 (Mathews 47, Shanaka 2) I wonder if that wicket might make it time for Broad to return, but while we ponder that we should also note that credit for that wicket doesn’t just go to Bess but to Leach, whose introduction at the other end changed the mood in the middle. Shanaka gets off the mark with a sweep for one, and when Mathews takes one into the on side, he adds another to cover.
WICKET! Dickwella c Buttler Bess 29 (Sri Lanka 291-6)
Bess comes back into the attack and his first ball is just outside off. It doesn’t look threatening so Dickwella plays a little run-down but doesn’t get enough of it, feathering a catch behind! That is a colossal breakthrough!
115th over: Sri Lanka 291-5 (Mathews 47, Dickwella 29) Leach is making things happen. He goes around to Mathews, finds a dead bit of pitch and the ball keeps low, taking the edge to beat, stumps and keeper; the resultant four puts Sri Lanka into the lead. Two singles then follow before another good one turns hard, far too good for Mathews’ cut; Buttler takes well.
at 4.08am EST
114th over: Sri Lanka 285-5 (Mathews 42, Dickwella 28) This is going very nicely for the Lankans now, and they take three more singles from Root as the drizzle begins to fall.