BY Ayyaz Malik
England’s cricketers weren’t able to clinch a whitewash series win last week, as a mixture of bad weather and Sri Lanka holding firm helped the tourists claim an encouraging draw in the third and final test match between the two sides. In a series that has been largely one sided as England have dominated, this test match was a bit more evenly poised in some stages.
In a match that was effectively a dead rubber, the home side won the toss and decided to bat first. Such a decision seemed like a bad choice for England as not for the first time in this series, the hosts lost several wickets before the score reached 100.
Just like it has been in other innings, Jonny Bairstow and on this occasion captain Alistair Cook rescued England to a degree. The wicket-keeper and skipper combined to put on 80 for the fifth wicket, but they were not quite out of the woods just yet.
When Cook was given out LBW off the bowling of Nuwan Pradeep for 85, England were still in trouble at 164-5. In came Moeen Ali – combined, Ali and Bairstow put on 63 for the sixth wicket.
After the loss of Moeen Ali, England were looking in a slightly better position at 227-6, but still not great. It was left to a partnership between Chris Woakes and Jonny Bairstow, who put on 154 for the seventh wicket. Woakes during this partnership scored his maiden test fifty.
After this partnership was broken the score read 371-7, which was a much better-looking scorecard considering this was seen as a batting pitch by home captain Alistair Cook. England would go on to finish their innings on 416 all out, which was a much better first innings lead to defend.
All too often in this series, sadly Sri Lanka’s batsmen have lacked fight, but in the case of the opening partnership, this wasn’t the case. Dimuth Karunaratne and Kaushal Silva impressively managed to put on 108 for the first wicket.
When Karunaratne was dismissed off the bowling of Steven Finn, sadly as it has happened all too often this series another Sri Lankan batting collapse occurred. After being in a position of control after scoring 100 without the loss of any wickets, Sri Lanka collapsed miserably to 288 all out.
Despite scores of 42 by Causal Perrera and 31 from Rangana Herath, it was the failings of the Sri Lankan middle order that cost them badly. The rain which had forced the players to come off on a couple of occasions during the match had an effect on the way the pitch was playing, but even still, such a collapse is disappointing.
England against all odds had managed to regain control of this match and started their second innings in the ascendancy with a significant 128 run lead. Yet again though however, the hosts had a horrific start in their second innings.
After a solid if not spectacular start, England lost three wickets close to each other and after being 44-0, they slipped up to 50-3. Yet again it looked like this was as mission left for wicket-keeper Jonny Bairstow to tidy up.
On several other occasions, Bairstow has managed to rescue England, however on this occasion he wasn’t entirely able to. England’s wicketkeeper was bowled and Steven Finn departed straight after, and what was keeping England from a complete meltdown was in fact opener Alex Hales. Hales was batting beautifully, and looked to be edging closer to that maiden hundred. He and his captain Cook put on 82 for the sixth wicket.
Sadly for Alex Hales however, he would be next out, six short of what would have been a well-deserved hundred. At this stage though the home side managed to amass a 300 run lead.
England set the tourists Sri Lanka a very daunting total of 352 to win, but considering that a significant amount of the match had been lost due to rain. Even the run chase itself was disrupted by rain.
Sri Lanka managed to get to 45-1 before the captains shook hands on the draw. Next for these two are five one-day internationals. The tourists will be hoping for better look in that format.
In one day internationals England are a different kettle of fish, they are of course under different leadership. Eoin Morgan takes the captaincy away from Alistair Cook, and Sri Lanka will have a different test to the one of the test series. Hopefully this will be a change of scenery for the Sri Lankans, and help them to be more competitive.
The one-day series between the two sides will be held on 21st June, where the first game will be played at Trent Bridge.