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England v Sri Lanka – Third test match first day review

Match situation: England are 279 for the loss of 6 wickets

Exchange odds:

England – 1.48

Sri Lanka – 16.0

Draw – 3.7

Met Office weather forecast

Friday – dry with bright spells

Saturday – dry to mid afternoon and then sunshine and showers

Sunday – sunshine and showers

Monday – sunshine and showers

In many ways yesterday’s action was quite a typical England batting performance. On a good pitch, England moved serenely to 56. Then, Hales gets out to a terrible shot and, in the blink of an eye, England’s middle order was back in the pavilion and the team were teetering on the brink at 84 for 4.

Had Eranga not dropped Bairstow when he had scored 11, perhaps Sri Lanka would be batting now. However, the chance was not taken and Bairstow and Cook, ably assisted by Ali and Woakes, were able to repair the damage to end the day on a respectable score of 279 with four wickets remaining.

Make no mistake, this is a good pitch with a little bit of movement and pace for those prepared to really put effort into a delivery. As such, England’s batting performance was very modest and does not inspire confidence for the series against Pakistan. To be fair, the Sri Lankan attack bowled very well, keeping things tight and giving very little away, which certainly contributed to the dismissal of Hales, which precipitated the top order collapse.

I feel this may be Compton’s last test for a while. You can dress it up any way you like but the bottom line is he is not scoring runs. Vince could well meet the same fate.

So whither this test match? If we ignore the weather forecast for the moment, then this morning’s session could be crucial. If England can get through it relatively unscathed and can go on to post a score of 400 then pressure can be reapplied on the inexperienced Sri Lankan batting line up. The humid conditions predicted this afternoon could well make Anderson difficult to play if he can utilise the slope. The pitch looks benign but it can only be judged once both teams have batted.

However, the weather is forecast to intervene with showers (some heavy) predicted for both Sunday and Monday. As I have said before, it can be an expensive mistake to bet on a draw mainly because of predicted weather intervention but, adding in Sri Lanka’s very solid record at the ground, the draw looks the most likely result to me.


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