Never in doubt (ahem) – day five in Colombo

Sri Lanka 275 & 278. England 460 & 97-2. England win by 8 wickets (phew)

We both knew England would chase 94 to win, right? We never thought in a million years that we’d cock it up; not even when Strauss fell in the very first over. Nah. We always had total confidence in our fragile batting line up that got bowled out for 70-odd a couple of months ago.

I have to say, I breathed a sigh of relief when I woke up and saw that we’d dismissed the remained Sri Lankan batsmen without leaking too many runs. It could have been a lot worse. I had visions of Jayawardene and Mathews putting on another hundred or so.

Yesterday we asked the question ‘how exactly do we get Mahela out’? Well, Graeme Swann answered that question this morning. You generally aim at the rough and hope you get lucky. Very lucky.

The ball that got him span like Shane Warne’s famous Gatting-ball (but from off to leg), and bounced like the ball that Curtly Ambrose bowled first up at Edgbaston all those years ago (the one that disappeared over Junior Murray’s head for four byes). It was absolutely unplayable. Even Sir Don wouldn’t have survived it; even if he knew it was coming.

Once Mahela was out, England’s confidence grew visibly. Swann had a spring in his step and wrapped up the innings. He bowled beautifully – and even troubled the right handers. Well done, sir.

The run chase was pretty simple in the end – although predictably there were a few nervous moments early on. Strauss was clean bowled in the first over leaving us on 0-1. It was a terrible moment. Yes, he played well in the first innings, but it saddens me to say that he remains a very poor player of spin. Trott on the other hand has looked relatively assured in this series. But that didn’t stop him from playing down the wrong line and getting trapped lbw.

Thanks heavens for Alastair Cook and KP. You sensed that another quick wicket at that stage might have left us in real trouble – the out of form Bell was in next, then Prior and the tail. Thankfully they weren’t needed. Cook played superbly and KP finished the job by making Dilshan and Herath look like the bowlers they really are: decidedly average.

So what next for England? Have we learned our lessons? Will we be able to compete in India later this year? Hmmmm. It’s hard to say. Sri Lanka do not have a penetrative bowling attack. India do, but their bowlers aren’t as good as Pakistan’s. It could be a close series.

James Morgan


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