England 351 Sri Lanka 105-2: Sidebottom and Prior combine to perk up England

Matt Prior and Ryan Sidebottom are not two of England's most high-profile cricketers. For each a walk down the High Street is rarely interrupted by a demand for autographs. But without their endeavour yesterday England would have been in a right pickle. It is not over-egging it to suggest that Michael Vaughan's side, after a seventh day of Test cricket in Sri Lanka, could already be out of the three-Test series.

The pair's initial contribution was made following the loss of two early wickets, dismissals that threatened to spoil much of England's hard work on Sunday. England began the second day of the second Test on 258 for 5 but when Paul Collingwood and Stuart Broad were trapped plumb in front no controversy here on these occasions England appeared set to fall short of 300. Yet, with the doomsters gathering voice, Prior and Sidebottom rebutted Sri Lanka's finest for almost two hours, adding 74 valuable runs in an industrious and sensible partnership. The stand allowed England to post a reasonably competitive first-innings total of 351.

England's score became even more combative in the opening nine overs of the hosts' reply when Sidebottom dismissed Upul Tharanga and Kumar Sangakkara, Sri Lanka's in-form batsman. Each of Sidebottom's victims was well caught by Prior behind the stumps. The double strike reduced the hosts to 22 for 2, but in the final session of play the tourists were unable to make any further inroads. Michael Vandort, with an unbeaten 50, and Mahela Jayawardene, 43 not out, blunted England's attack, taking their side to 105 for 2 when bad light stopped play.

"We were a little bit disappointed with our total," admitted Sidebottom. "We were aiming for around 400 this morning but [Chaminda] Vaas and [Lasith] Malinga bowled well first up so it wasn't to be. But 350 is still a competitive score."

There is nothing more that a bowler loves than scoring a few runs down the bottom of the order but it was the dismissal of Sangakkara that gave Sidebottom the greatest pleasure. In Kandy, England's bowlers would have felt as though they were bowling at a brick wall while he collected 244 runs, but cricket is a great leveller and Sangakkara had to go when he edged the 10th ball he faced through to Prior.

On seeing the catch safely taken Sidebottom went galloping towards the cover point region, in Monty Panesar style, jumping for joy before swooping round like an aeroplane and returning to his team-mates. "You work so hard to get good players out so I was ecstatic to get his early wicket," he said.

The other three members of England's attack toiled gamefully, with Stuart Broad coming closest to taking a wicket. Broad's debut began horribly, when he was trapped lbw for two, and it became worse when he took the second over of the Sri Lankan innings. In his opening over umpire Aleem Dar expressed concern about where Broad's feet were landing in his follow-through and within five overs he had been warned twice. A third warning would have seen him banned for the remainder of the innings. Yet, in between the warnings and during a lively second spell from the other end, Broad highlighted why he is rated so highly. His bowling was straight and purposeful, and on another day a couple of aerial shots would have gone to hand. If he wants to bowl with freedom, though, he will have to ensure he keeps off the pitch.

Steve Harmison bowled reasonably well, too, sending down several hostile balls in 10 overs. In his first spell he bowled too short and Jayawardene left him comfortably, but he returned with a much better spell before the close. Panesar was once again disappointing and England are likely to need a significant contribution from him if they are to leave Colombo with the series level.

Sidebottom scored only 17 of the 74 runs added with Prior, who confirmed his position as England's No 1 'keeper with a fine 79 and another good display with the gloves. Much is expected of the modern wicketkeeper. Not only must they bat well; they need to be able to score quickly and smash it around, too. Prior is capable of both.

England continued to thrive until Muttiah Muralitharan found the outside edge of Sidebottom's bat. Harmison perished first ball and Prior's brave innings ended when he tried to slog the legendary spinner for six.

The wicket gave Murali, who once again did not bowl particularly well, the 62nd five-wicket haul of his Test career. How England would love to have a man capable of producing such figures during an indifferent day's work.

Scoreboard from Colombo

Second day of five England won toss

England First innings (Overnight: 258-5)

P D Collingwood lbw b Vaas.........  52

145 min, 96 balls, 7 fours

†M J Prior c and b Muralitharan.........  79

189 min, 130 balls, 9 fours

S C J Broad lbw b Malinga.........  2

12 min, 8 balls

R J Sidebottom c D P M D Jayawardene b Muralitharan.........  17

110 min, 81 balls, 1 four

S J Harmison c Silva b Muralitharan.........  0

6 min, 1 ball

M S Panesar not out.........  0

8 min, 7 balls

Extras (b 8, lb 2, w 0, nb 7, pens 0).........  17

Total (536min, 126.2 overs).........  351

Fall (cont): 6-269 (Collingwood), 7-272 (Broad), 8-346 (Sidebottom), 9-350 (Harmison), 10-351 (Prior).

Bowling: Vaas 32-8-68-2; Malinga 24-3-78-3; Fernando 23-3-79-0; Muralitharan 47.2-9-116-5 .

Sri Lanka First innings

M G Vandort not out.........  50

174 min, 91 balls, 5 fours

W U Tharanga c Prior b Sidebottom......... 10

30 min, 21 balls, 2 fours

K C Sangakkara c Prior b Sidebottom......... 1

11 min, 10 balls

*D P M D Jayawardene not out......... 43

131 min, 106 balls, 5 fours

Extras (b 0, lb 0, w 1, nb 0, pens 0).........  1

Total (2 wkts, 174min, 38 overs).........  105

Fall: 1-20 (Tharanga), 2-22 (Sangakkara).

To bat: L P C Silva, J Mubarak, †H A P W Jayawardene, W P U C J Vaas, C R D Fernando, S L Malinga, M Muralitharan.

Bowling: Sidebottom 11-1-35-2 (w1) (8-0-27-2, 3-1-8-0); Broad 11-3-19-0 (5-1-6-0, 6-2-13-0); Harmison 10-2-23-0 (5-2-10-0, 5-0-13-0); Panesar 6-0-28-0 (5-0-22-0, 1-0-6-0).

Umpires: Aleem Dar (Pak), D J Harper (Aus).

peoplePair enliven the Emirates bore-draw
Arts and Entertainment
tvPoldark episode 8, review
Britain's opposition Labour Party leader Ed Miliband (R) and Boris Johnson, mayor of London, talk on the Andrew Marr show in London April 26
General electionAndrew Marr forced to intervene as Boris and Miliband clash on TV
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Caption competition
Caption competition
  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Daily Quiz
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Career Services

Day In a Page

General Election 2015: Chuka Umunna on the benefits of immigration, humility – and his leader Ed Miliband

Chuka Umunna: A virus of racism runs through Ukip

The shadow business secretary on the benefits of immigration, humility – and his leader Ed Miliband
Yemen crisis: This exotic war will soon become Europe's problem

Yemen's exotic war will soon affect Europe

Terrorism and boatloads of desperate migrants will be the outcome of the Saudi air campaign, says Patrick Cockburn
Marginal Streets project aims to document voters in the run-up to the General Election

Marginal Streets project documents voters

Independent photographers Joseph Fox and Orlando Gili are uploading two portraits of constituents to their website for each day of the campaign
Game of Thrones: Visit the real-life kingdom of Westeros to see where violent history ends and telly tourism begins

The real-life kingdom of Westeros

Is there something a little uncomfortable about Game of Thrones shooting in Northern Ireland?
How to survive a social-media mauling, by the tough women of Twitter

How to survive a Twitter mauling

Mary Beard, Caroline Criado-Perez, Louise Mensch, Bunny La Roche and Courtney Barrasford reveal how to trounce the trolls
Gallipoli centenary: At dawn, the young remember the young who perished in one of the First World War's bloodiest battles

At dawn, the young remember the young

A century ago, soldiers of the Empire – many no more than boys – spilt on to Gallipoli’s beaches. On this 100th Anzac Day, there are personal, poetic tributes to their sacrifice
Dissent is slowly building against the billions spent on presidential campaigns – even among politicians themselves

Follow the money as never before

Dissent is slowly building against the billions spent on presidential campaigns – even among politicians themselves, reports Rupert Cornwell
Samuel West interview: The actor and director on austerity, unionisation, and not mentioning his famous parents

Samuel West interview

The actor and director on austerity, unionisation, and not mentioning his famous parents
General Election 2015: Imagine if the leading political parties were fashion labels

Imagine if the leading political parties were fashion labels

Fashion editor, Alexander Fury, on what the leaders' appearances tell us about them
Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka: Home can be the unsafest place for women

Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka: Home can be the unsafest place for women

The architect of the HeForShe movement and head of UN Women on the world's failure to combat domestic violence
Public relations as 'art'? Surely not

Confessions of a former PR man

The 'art' of public relations is being celebrated by the V&A museum, triggering some happy memories for DJ Taylor
Bill Granger recipes: Our chef succumbs to his sugar cravings with super-luxurious sweet treats

Bill Granger's luxurious sweet treats

Our chef loves to stop for 30 minutes to catch up on the day's gossip, while nibbling on something sweet
London Marathon 2015: Paula Radcliffe and the mother of all goodbyes

The mother of all goodbyes

Paula Radcliffe's farewell to the London Marathon will be a family affair
Everton vs Manchester United: Steven Naismith demands 'better' if Toffees are to upset the odds against United

Steven Naismith: 'We know we must do better'

The Everton forward explains the reasons behind club's decline this season
Arsenal vs Chelsea: Praise to Arsene Wenger for having the courage of his convictions

Michael Calvin's Last Word

Praise to Wenger for having the courage of his convictions