England openers put tourists in command against Sri Lanka



Half-centuries from under-pressure captain Andrew Strauss and opener Alastair Cook on day two left England in a strong position to push for victory in the second Test against Sri Lanka.

Having bowled the hosts out for 275 in the morning session - with four wickets falling for the addition of 37 runs - England enjoyed their best batting day of a difficult winter to reach stumps 121 behind on 154 for one.

Although Strauss did not provide the long-awaited hundred he wanted to halt speculation about his future as skipper, his diligent 61 was crucial in building strong foundations for a first Test win of 2012.

He battled hard in a first-wicket stand of 122 with Cook, the pair's first century partnership in nine innings, with the latter due to resume tomorrow on 77.

Sri Lanka began the day on 238 for six, with England hoping to make light work of the tail.

Although the second new ball was just nine overs old, James Anderson and Steven Finn drew blanks as Angelo Mathews, 41no overnight, nudged his way to an eighth Test fifty.

Swann was needed to get the ball rolling, drawing Suraj Randiv into a rash shot down the ground, where he was well held by the back-pedalling Kevin Pietersen.

It took Swann four more balls to remove Mathews, who popped a simple catch to Strauss at short mid-wicket to fall for 57.

Number nine Dhammika Prasad made 12 not out but England were ruthless in seeing off the last two men, Tim Bresnan benefiting from Rangana Herath's wild hack and Swann turning one sharply into Suranga Lakmal's stumps.

Swann finished with four for 75 and had handed England the momentum.

Strauss and Cook were left with an unwanted four-over stint before lunch and emerged unscathed, just.

Strauss got off the mark after three balls, sending a low thick edge through the cordon for four, and had a nerve-shredding moment just before the break when an attempted cut almost ricocheted into his stumps.

England were positive at the start of the afternoon session, both batsmen finding the ropes inside seven deliveries, and working hard for singles.

It took just eight overs for left-arm spinner Herath, man of the match in Galle, to be introduced.

England's tactics were much better against him this time, with the much-debated sweep shot put into storage and both batsmen playing safer shots with the turn.

Yet Herath still posed some hard questions.

Cook, on 20, turned him to short-leg where Lahiru Thirimanne almost took a wonderful low catch only for the ball to squirm loose.

Strauss had 23 when he was beaten by Herath, nicking one just short of Mahela Jayawardene at slip.

Cook nudged for two to bring up the 50 partnership in the 21st over and collected his third boundary to long leg when Herath dropped short.

Herath was turning the ball towards a seven-strong leg-side field, with four close catchers, but Strauss and Cook were keeping their heads.

Lakmal returned for a second spell, with Strauss welcoming the additional pace by nudging the first ball off his hip for two.

The England captain joined Cook in passing 40 with a neat three off Lakmal in the last over before tea.

It was not until the 39th over of the innings that Strauss unveiled the sweep and, even more surprisingly, it was caused no dramas.

Cook was also becoming more confident, reverse sweeping Herath to third man for four.

Both openers reached their half-centuries in the space of a couple of minutes, Strauss in 105 balls and Cook taking 164.

Prasad saw Strauss and Cook collect fours to the vacant third-man area in the same over but when Sri Lankan heads began to drop, Tillakaratne Dilshan struck.

Having edged the off-spinner short of slip two balls earlier, Strauss went to cut a ball too full for the shot and was smartly caught by wicketkeeper Prasanna Jayawardene.

Cook continued to compile watchfully for the remainder of the day, with new man Jonathan Trott (15no) offering typically cool-headed support at the other end.


Suggested Topics
Arts and Entertainment
tvThe C-Word, TV review
Arts and Entertainment
The Ridiculous Six has been produced by Adam Sandler, who also stars in it
filmNew controversy after nine Native American actors walked off set
Danny Jones was in the Wales squad for the 2013 World Cup
rugby leagueKeighley Cougars half-back was taken off after just four minutes
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Life and Style
The original ZX Spectrum was simple to plug into your TV and get playing on
techThirty years on, the ZX Spectrum is back, after a fashion
Tiger Woods and Lindsey Vonn are breaking up after nearly three years together
peopleFormer couple announce separation in posts on their websites
Life and Style
Google celebrates Bartolomeo Cristofori's 360th birthday
techGoogle Doodle to the rescue
Arts and Entertainment
Haunted looks: Matthew Macfadyen and Timothy Spall star in ‘The Enfield Haunting’
tvThe Enfield Haunting, TV review
The Mattehorn stands reflected in Leisee lake near Sunnegga station on June 30, 2013 near Zermatt, Switzerland
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

'It was first time I had ever tasted chocolate. I kept a piece, and when Amsterdam was liberated, I gave it to the first Allied soldier I saw'

Bread from heaven

Dutch survivors thank RAF for World War II drop that saved millions
Britain will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power - Labour

How 'the Axe' helped Labour

UK will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power
Rare and exclusive video shows the horrific price paid by activists for challenging the rule of jihadist extremists in Syria

The price to be paid for challenging the rule of extremists

A revolution now 'consuming its own children'
Welcome to the world of Megagames

Welcome to the world of Megagames

300 players take part in Watch the Skies! board game in London
'Nymphomaniac' actress reveals what it was really like to star in one of the most explicit films ever

Charlotte Gainsbourg on 'Nymphomaniac'

Starring in one of the most explicit films ever
Robert Fisk in Abu Dhabi: The Emirates' out-of-sight migrant workers helping to build the dream projects of its rulers

Robert Fisk in Abu Dhabi

The Emirates' out-of-sight migrant workers helping to build the dream projects of its rulers
Vince Cable interview: Charging fees for employment tribunals was 'a very bad move'

Vince Cable exclusive interview

Charging fees for employment tribunals was 'a very bad move'
Iwan Rheon interview: Game of Thrones star returns to his Welsh roots to record debut album

Iwan Rheon is returning to his Welsh roots

Rheon is best known for his role as the Bastard of Bolton. It's gruelling playing a sadistic torturer, he tells Craig McLean, but it hasn't stopped him recording an album of Welsh psychedelia
Russell Brand's interview with Ed Miliband has got everyone talking about The Trews

Everyone is talking about The Trews

Russell Brand's 'true news' videos attract millions of viewers. But today's 'Milibrand' interview introduced his resolutely amateurish style to a whole new crowd
Morne Hardenberg interview: Cameraman for BBC's upcoming show Shark on filming the ocean's most dangerous predator

It's time for my close-up

Meet the man who films great whites for a living
Increasing numbers of homeless people in America keep their mobile phones on the streets

Homeless people keep mobile phones

A homeless person with a smartphone is a common sight in the US. And that's creating a network where the 'hobo' community can share information - and fight stigma - like never before
'Queer saint' Peter Watson left his mark on British culture by bankrolling artworld giants

'Queer saint' who bankrolled artworld giants

British culture owes a huge debt to Peter Watson, says Michael Prodger
Pushkin Prizes: Unusual exchange programme aims to bring countries together through culture

Pushkin Prizes brings countries together

Ten Scottish schoolchildren and their Russian peers attended a creative writing workshop in the Highlands this week
14 best kids' hoodies

14 best kids' hoodies

Don't get caught out by that wind on the beach. Zip them up in a lightweight top to see them through summer to autumn
Robert Fisk in Abu Dhabi: The acceptable face of the Emirates

The acceptable face of the Emirates

Has Abu Dhabi found a way to blend petrodollars with principles, asks Robert Fisk