Sri Lankan attack sends warning with rout of Middlesex

Middlesex 360-8 & 161 Sri lanka 309-2 dec & 216-6

Before you know it, theories about cricket have become accepted as fully-fledged fact. If they were drugs trials there could be all sorts of potential trouble with a wonder cure being written up in The Lancet and marketed long before completion. Thus, it has been deemed as gospel that the Sri Lankan bowling attack, deprived of its glory boys, is not up to it for the forthcoming Test series against England. That may prove to be so by the end of this tour, but they confounded the blanket scepticism in their opening game yesterday.

Middlesex, albeit well below strength, which is saying something, capitulated. They were 161 all out, losing their last nine wickets in little more than a session. Whatever the frailties of the batting, and they were many, it rather suggested that the conclusion about the lack of the tourists' threat was premature. On a pitch which had been blameless for the first two days – unless being too flat is cause for culpability – all five of their bowlers took wickets.

The most impressive were the two whom they would probably prefer to select for the first Test in Cardiff next week. Chanaka Welegedara took three wickets with some lively left-arm fast medium. He was hardly quick but he achieved some bounce and was plainly delighted to remove Andrew Strauss, England's captain. It was a typical Strauss dismissal, opening the face and cutting, come driving, off the back foot to gully.

There were three wickets too for Ajantha Mendis, a mystery spinner who has been detected somewhat since his early days. When Mendis burst on to the scene three years ago his carrom ball carried all before it. The imminent loss of Muttiah Muralitharan would not be so gravely felt after all.



Mendis has not trained on as he might have done. Batsmen tend to read him as though he was Janet and John rather than Sanskrit these days. He was omitted from Sri Lanka's side for the World Cup final and his brief sojourn with Somerset at the start of the season was hardly a resounding success.

His two Championship matches brought him four wickets but there was no fluency let alone threat. Those who saw him were surprised that he had been so garlanded recently. Mendis was hardly a handful yesterday but he was too adroit for Middlesex and the one with which he bowled Jamie Dalrymple suggested he has not become entirely straightforward. The challenges ahead for Mendis and Sri Lanka are more imposing than this.

The stand-in captain, Dawid Malan, was Middlesex's top scorer but like too many of his colleagues he was out, caught at slip, playing a ill-executed shot. The England under 19s star, Adam Rossington, just 18, avoided a pair by the narrowest streaky edge for four, but he found it a struggle. Rossington has plenty of admirers and enough about him to make a go of the game but in his first-class innings so far he has made 1, 0 and 4 so he has left scope for improvement.

Left with 213 to win, Sri Lanka might have done it at a doddle. They fiddled about with their batting order, worryingly aware that they have only one more match before the Test series starts, and that the relatively serious business of facing England Lions, players with points to make.

For a while, it looked as though Middlesex's attack might go through the game wicketless. Although the tourists had nominally been two down in their first innings they both emanated from the batsmen retiring out. When Prasanna Jayawardene advanced too far up the pitch the bowler Tom Parsons ran him out with a direct hit but still the bowlers had not struck.

Dalrymple and Tom Smith, however, made incisions with off spin and left-arm spin respectively, which curtailed Thilan Samaraweera's clear intentions to bat throughout the innings.

In the event, they lost six wickets in the pursuit including Tillakaratne Dilshan, the captain, and Tharanga Paranavitana, more conventionally dismissed this time, but there was never much doubt that the necessary runs would be easily accrued. By the end of the Lions match more will be known about these Sri Lankans but they will be no cakewalk.

Voices
The Sumatran tiger, endemic to the Indonesian island of Sumatra, is an endangered species
voicesJonathon Porritt: The wild tiger population is thought to have dropped by 97 per cent since 1900
Arts and Entertainment
Beast would strip to his underpants and take to the stage with a slogan scrawled on his bare chest whilst fans shouted “you fat bastard” at him
musicIndie music promoter was was a feature at Carter gigs
News
news
Arts and Entertainment
Story line: Susanoo slays the Yamata no Orochi serpent in the Japanese version of a myth dating back 40,000 years
arts + entsApplying the theory of evolution to the world's many mythologies
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
Performers dressed as Tunnocks chocolate teacakes, a renowned Scottish confectionary, perform during the opening ceremony of the 2014 Commonwealth Games at Celtic Park in Glasgow on July 23, 2014.
news
Life and Style
Popular plonk: Lambrusco is selling strong
Food + drinkNaff Seventies corner-shop staple is this year's Aperol Spritz
News
Gardai wait for the naked man, who had gone for a skinny dip in Belfast Lough
newsTwo skinny dippers threatened with inclusion on sex offenders’ register as naturists criminalised
News
Shake down: Michelle and Barack Obama bump knuckles before an election night rally in Minnesota in 2008, the 'Washington Post' called it 'the fist bump heard round the world'
newsThe pound, a.k.a. the dap, greatly improves hygiene
Arts and Entertainment
La Roux
music
Arts and Entertainment
Graham Fellows as John Shuttleworth
comedySean O'Grady joins Graham Fellows down his local Spar
News
people
News
Ross Burden pictured in 2002
people
News
Elisabeth Murdoch: The 44-year-old said she felt a responsibility to 'stand up and be counted’'
media... says Rupert Murdoch
Arts and Entertainment
tv
Extras
indybest
Sport
Arsenal signing Calum Chambers
sportGunners complete £16m transfer of Southampton youngster
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Daily Quiz
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

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

Career Services

Day In a Page

The children were playing in the street with toy guns. The air strikes were tragically real

The air strikes were tragically real

The children were playing in the street with toy guns
Boozy, ignorant, intolerant, but very polite – The British, as others see us

Britain as others see us

Boozy, ignorant, intolerant, but very polite
Countries that don’t survey their tigers risk losing them altogether

Countries that don’t survey their tigers risk losing them

Jonathon Porritt sounds the alarm
How did our legends really begin?

How did our legends really begin?

Applying the theory of evolution to the world's many mythologies
Watch out: Lambrusco is back on the menu

Lambrusco is back on the menu

Naff Seventies corner-shop staple is this year's Aperol Spritz
A new Russian revolution: Cracks start to appear in Putin’s Kremlin power bloc

A new Russian revolution

Cracks start to appear in Putin’s Kremlin power bloc
Eugene de Kock: Apartheid’s sadistic killer that his country cannot forgive

Apartheid’s sadistic killer that his country cannot forgive

The debate rages in South Africa over whether Eugene de Kock should ever be released from jail
Standing my ground: If sitting is bad for your health, what happens when you stay on your feet for a whole month?

Standing my ground

If sitting is bad for your health, what happens when you stay on your feet for a whole month?
Commonwealth Games 2014: Dai Greene prays for chance to rebuild after injury agony

Greene prays for chance to rebuild after injury agony

Welsh hurdler was World, European and Commonwealth champion, but then the injuries crept in
Israel-Gaza conflict: Secret report helps Israelis to hide facts

Patrick Cockburn: Secret report helps Israel to hide facts

The slickness of Israel's spokesmen is rooted in directions set down by pollster Frank Luntz
The man who dared to go on holiday

The man who dared to go on holiday

New York's mayor has taken a vacation - in a nation that has still to enforce paid leave, it caused quite a stir, reports Rupert Cornwell
Best comedians: How the professionals go about their funny business, from Sarah Millican to Marcus Brigstocke

Best comedians: How the professionals go about their funny business

For all those wanting to know how stand-ups keep standing, here are some of the best moments
The Guest List 2014: Forget the Man Booker longlist, Literary Editor Katy Guest offers her alternative picks

The Guest List 2014

Forget the Man Booker longlist, Literary Editor Katy Guest offers her alternative picks
Jokes on Hollywood: 'With comedy film audiences shrinking, it’s time to move on'

Jokes on Hollywood

With comedy film audiences shrinking, it’s time to move on