Cricket – First Day Report
Events at Headingley took a fairly predictable turn yesterday. As expected, the winner of the toss inserted the opposition in bowler friendly conditions on a result wicket.
Initially, the England openers held firm, thanks mainly to the Sri Lankan attack being unable to maintain a sufficiently accurate line allowing the batsmen the opportunity for plenty of leaves.
The requisite control was finally provided by new boy Shanaka, who took the key wickets of Cook, Compton and Root in the space of 8 balls. Buoyed by these events, the Sri Lankans really ramped up the pressure with the ball and Vince and Stokes were soon back in the pavilion following injudicious shots.
With Bairstow now at the crease, the Sri Lankan attack inexplicably abandoned their full length attack for short-pitched bowling. Bairstow duly took full advantage and scored a rapid 54 in the vital unbroken 6th wicket partnership of 88, which took England to the relative comfort of 171 for 5 when rain stopped play for the day.
The match is delicately poised and, if another four full days of cricket were guaranteed, then one could see nothing other than a result. However, the weather has already intervened and the forecast for the next four days is as follows:
Friday – cloudy and mainly dry until rain due mid afternoon
Saturday – dry and cloudy in the morning with rain and some bright spells in the afternoon
Sunday – dry with sunny spells
Monday – Cloudy and mainly dry with occasional bright spells.
Today’s morning session is looking vital in determining the outcome of the match. If England can make steps towards a score of 300, Sri Lanka will struggle to match that if England bowl at anything like their potential. Even a score of 250 plus will be useful on this pitch. The England strike bowlers must, of course, learn from their opponents and keep a full length and let the pitch do the work. Sometimes in these conditions, they try too hard and lose their length.
Finally, our suggested bet on Bairstow being the highest England scorer in the first innings is looking in good shape. Barring a miracle knock from Ali or Broad, Bairstow has Hales to beat. I would definitely consider laying your stake back on the exchanges at around 2/1, giving you a free bet at 12/1 if you took the Ladbrokes odds.