England have put themselves in a great position to beat Sri Lanka in the first test although it is just a day’s play that has gone by. Sri Lankans were bundled out for a paltry 188 and England in reply did well to end the day’s play at 49 for 1. Swing bowler Matthew Hoggard troubled the Sri Lankan top order taking four wickets while Monty Panesar wiped off the tail.
When Mahela Jayawardene won the toss and decided to bat first, lot of Sri Lankan supporters were expecting their team to pile up a huge first innings score and leave the rest to Muralitharan. But Matthew Hoggard and Ryan Sidebottom, two expert new ball operators had other ideas as they got two early wickets including that of Sanath Jayasuriya. After the first hour, Hoggard struck Sri Lanka with a triple blow that included the big fish Mahela Jayawardene. Sri Lanka were tottering along at 42 for 5. They ended the first session at a slightly better 86 for 5 with Sangakkara and Prasanna Jayawardene battling hard.
The afternoon session was going Sri Lanka’s way as the morning freshness in the track started to disappear. It gave way to a sound partnership between Sangakkara and Prasanna Jayawardene. It was in the 47th over that England could break this stand through Monty Panesar which ended a 106-run stand. Prasanna Jayawardene got dismissed bat pad after a good knock of 51 (from 102 balls with 9 fours). Panesar then went onto take a couple of more wickets and then a run out from Test Debutant Ravi Bopara ended the Sri Lankan innings. Sri Lanka got packed for 188 in 59.4 overs. The top scorer was the inform Kumar Sangakkara who missed a century by 8 runs. His runs came in 159 balls with the help of 13 fours.
Hoggard finished with a rich haul of 4 for 29 in 14 overs. Monty Panesar had 3 for 46 in 14 overs which was instrumental in cleaning up the tail. England had a bad start to their innings losing Alastair Cook in the third ball of the innings. Vaas trapped him infront of the stumps to send him back for a duck. In the remaining part of play that was cut short by bad light, Skipper Michael Vaughan and Ian Bell ensured that there were no further problems for the tourists. They ended the day’s play at 49 for 1 in 17 overs with Bell on 36 (from 44 balls with 4 fours) and opener Vaughan with 13 (from 55 balls with 2 fours).