Pietersen turns corner before time runs out for England
England 486 & 335-7 dec Sri Lanka 479 & 127-3 (Match drawn)
Wednesday 08 June 2011
What works for Nasa and its scientists does not necessarily apply in less celestial spheres. Lightning thus declined to strike twice yesterday and England, unable to repeat the remarkable victory of the previous week against Sri Lanka, had to settle for a draw in the second Test.
It meant that the series, nominally, stays alive with the third match due to start at the Rose Bowl next week. Almost nothing that happened at the most famous Test ground in the world suggests that the tourists can level matters at 1-1.
England might have been deprived of a 2-0 lead but although they were 22 for three on the first morning they recovered smartly and were never in danger of defeat. Given the loss of nearly 70 overs because of rain and the enduringly benign nature of the pitch, forcing a second win was always likely to be beyond them.
So it turned out on the final day which was marked more by the continuing prodigiousness of England's batsmen and a broken pane of glass in their dressing room than by a charge for victory. Alastair Cook, with his second hundred of the series and his sixth in 12 innings, and Ian Bell, with his 11th score above 50 in his last 19 innings, were the strikers on the field, Matt Prior apparently the inadvertent one off it after his bat went though a window shortly after he was dismissed.
England declared their second innings at 335 for seven and Sri Lanka, needing 343 to win in a possible 58 overs, finished on 127 for three when the sides shook hands on the draw with 15 overs left. The tourists never entertained the notion of chasing the runs – the thought of the Cardiff catastrophe when they were all out for 82 in 24.4 overs with the draw there for the taking can never have been far from their minds. England will have contemplated it fleetingly when they removed Kumar Sangakkara early in the piece, but they never came close to spreading the alarm of Sophia Gardens.
If Cook and Bell, not to mention Jonathan Trott, can remain so prolific for the rest of the summer, with India on their way, then the number one place in the Test rankings may loom more clearly into view. There will still be the old worry of taking 20 wickets, aggravated by the waywardness of the bowling in this match but they have largely learned to deal with such trifles.
In some ways, it was not Cook or Bell who played the most significant innings yesterday but Kevin Pietersen. It would be a mistake and a calumny to suggest that this was the Pietersen of yore on show. It was nothing like him, but the 72 runs he scored before falling yet again to a left-arm spinner lent credence to his insistence that he has not felt in bad form despite poor returns.
Pietersen batted with zest in the morning, just as England wanted, and apart from one foul-up seemed to concentrate on keeping his bat straight. The ball that did for him from Rangana Herath was a bobby dazzler and, although it was the 20th time in Test matches that Pietersen has been the victim of left-arm spin, this was permissible. It is difficult to legislate for a ball turning from nine inches outside leg stump which eventually hits middle. It was a delightful piece of bowling.
There was nothing more certain than Cook's hundred. He refused to be rushed in acquiring it. His first fifty took 86 balls and his second 137, which is not the usual way of doing things. The century might have been on his mind but there was a danger for a while that he would play himself out of form.
Bell came out with clear instructions to progress rapidly and his 57 came from only 43 balls. Still, he was at his most effective playing orthodox or personally improvised attacking shots rather than outrageous slogs. Cook might be favourite to smash all records known to statisticians but Bell may not be far behind him.
The talk of the afternoon, however, was Prior. He came in for a quick dash after lunch with the declaration imminent and, as has always been his way, made it obvious that he would do the side's bidding. In these sorts of circumstances daft run outs are always possible and when Prior backed up too far and was sent back by Bell that was what happened.
Prior turned and, without recourse to a replay, tossed his bat in the air as he went. His agitation might have been natural but it was a surprise when not long after a window was broken in the England dressing room. Two explanations were given by the England management, neither of them involving bat throwing and neither entirely convincing. These things happen, though not often directly above MCC members and if damage limitation was indeed the name of England's game, they may find as super-injunctors sometimes do, that these things can soon take on a life of their own. What really happened in the Lord's dressing roomon the afternoon of 7 June 2011? Did Matt Prior really just place his bat near the window, which then apparently took on a life of its own, its handle going through the oblong pane?
Prior went down to apologise before taking the field, accompanied by his captain, Andrew Strauss. Soon enough, Sangakkara continued his wretched form in England by cutting to point where Eoin Morgan took a catch above his head. Mahela Jayawardene pushed forward and edged to gully, Tharanga Paranavitana was leg before to Trott. England had a glimmer, but one window at least was soon shut.
* Sri Lanka’s captain, Tillakaratne Dilshan has a hairline fracture of his right thumb, was unable to bat yesterday and has been ruled out of next week’s final Test at the Rose Bowl.
Snakes & Ladders: England's quest to reach top of game
England could be crowned the world's No 1 Test team by the end of the summer. Knowing England, though, their journey from third spot is unlikely to be without its ups and downs. Or snakes and ladders. Independent Sport is monitoring England's progress.
Ladder Kevin Pietersen will never fail for lack of preparation, or so it would seem. He may suggest the media have overplayed his batting problems but guess who was first in the Lord's nets yesterday, receiving countless throw-downs from Graham Gooch?
Snake Whoops, practice doesn't always make perfect then. Gooch is a lot of things but a left-arm spinner he ain't. Perhaps England need Monty Panesar in their squad – just to bowl at KP in the nets.
Ladder Never look a gift horse... Tillakaratne Dilshan's broken thumb is bad for Sri Lanka but it increases the chances of an England victory at the Rose Bowl.
Snakes Well, a couple of snakes, actually. Stewards were meticulously placed (precisely 2.5 yards apart) in two lines either side of the Lord's square before spectators were invited to set foot on the "hallowed turf". Not much chance then of a close-up look at the pitch.
Ladder Just when we thought Alastair Cook was losing it (he made a measly 96 in the first innings) along comes the vice-captain's sixth century in his last nine Tests.
Ladder Actually, a chair will do: for the glazier to step on when he repairs the window broken by Matt Prior's bat handle.
State of play on the snakes and ladders board: No change England
Lord's (Fifth day of five): England drew with Sri Lanka; Sri Lanka won toss
England — First Innings 486 (Prior 126, Cook 96, Morgan 79, Broad 54, Bell 52, Welegedara 4-122)
Sri Lanka — First Innings 479 (Dilshan 193, Paranavitana 65, Finn 4-108)
England — Second Innings Overnight 149-2 (Trott 58)
A N Cook st H A P W Jayawardene b Herath 106, 231 balls 0 sixes 10 fours
K P Pietersen not out Herath 72, 124 balls 0 sixes 7 fours
I R Bell not out 57, 43 balls 0 sixes 8 fours
E J G Morgan c Sub b Fernando 4, 3 balls 0 sixes 1 fours
†M J Prior run out 4, 2 balls 0 sixes 0 fours
S C J Broad c H A P W Jayawardene b Fernando 3, 7 balls 0 sixes 0 fours
Extras (lb12 w1 nb18) 31
Total (for 6 dec, 78.1 overs) 335
Fall 1-0, 2-117, 3-244, 4-312, 5-319, 6-335.
Did not bat G P Swann, C T Tremlett, S T Finn.
Sri Lanka Bowling U W M B C A Welegedara 10-1-50-1 (3nb) (6-1-23-1; 4-0-27-0), R A S Lakmal 17-0-70-0 (7nb) (1wd) (5-0-17-0; 3-0-14-0; 6-0-26-0; 3-0-13-0), M F Maharoof 7-0-24-0 (2nb) (4-0-17-0; 3-0-7-0), C R D Fernando 20.1-2-92-2 (6nb) (11-1-47-0; 7-1-33-0; 2.1-0-12-2), H M R K B Herath 24-2-87-3 (7-1-16-1; 1-0-1-0; 16-1-70-2)
Sri Lanka — Second Innings
N T Paranavitana lbw b Trott 44, 86 balls 0 sixes 6 fours
K C Sangakkara c Morgan b Tremlett 12, 13 balls 0 sixes 2 fours
D P M D Jayawardene c Pietersen b Broad 25, 71 balls 0 sixes 4 fours
T T Samaraweera not out 17, 58 balls 0 sixes 1 fours
†H A P W Jayawardene not out 12, 31 balls 0 sixes 2 fours
Extras (b7 lb3 w6 nb1) 17
Total (for 3, 43 overs) 127
Fall 1-13, 2-66, 3-96.
Did not bat *T M Dilshan, M F Maharoof, U W M B C A Welegedara, H M R K B Herath, C R D Fernando, R A S Lakmal.
England Bowling C T Tremlett 9-1-31-1 (1nb) (4-0-14-1; 4-1-15-0; 1-0-2-0), S C J Broad 9-2-29-1 (1wd) (5-2-7-0; 4-1-22-1), G P Swann 12-2-19-0 (3-0-5-0; 7-1-13-0; 2-1-1-0), S T Finn 8-2-31-0 (1wd) (4-2-9-0; 4-0-22-0), I J L Trott 4-1-5-1 (4-1-5-1), K P Pietersen 1-0-2-0 (1-0-2-0)
Match Umpires BR Doctrove (WI) & RJ Tucker (Aus)
3rd Umpire Aleem Dar (Pak)
Match Referee J Srinath (Ind)
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