England On Threshold Of Victory - Need 36 Runs To Win 1st Test Match

England On Threshold Of Victory - Need 36 Runs To Win 1st Test Match

18 January 2021 01:26 pm

1st Test - Sri Lanka Vs England -  Galle - Day 4   

England remained on the threshold of winning the 1st Test of the Daraz powered two test series against Sri Lanka and played for the Moose Clothing Cup 2021 at the Galle Esplanade yesterday.

With one hand already firmly gripping the cup, England will resume tomorrow needing to knock off the balance 36 runs required to win with 7 wickets in hand.

Day 4 began with Sri Lanka hoping that their previous day's run with the bat would continue.

They probably had plans to play out the day in stages.

Wipe out the deficit first and then post a total of around 150 runs, which they could defend on a tricky fifth day track.

They needed to occupy the crease and score around 300 runs in the three sessions.

They had quality batsmen to do it.

So they thought.

However when play commenced the overnight pair of Thirimanne and Embuldeniya were parted early on, when the night watchman pushed gently at a ball from Bess to be caught by Dom Sibley in the covers. 

Sri Lanka continued to believe in themselves, when in the next 20 overs both Thirimanne and skipper Dinesh Chandimal knitted a useful partnership of 52 runs. 

Thirimanne in the process batting patiently, went on to play two exquisite back cuts splitting the cover and cover point fielder on both occasions, to bring up his second test century after seven long years. His first century was against Bangladesh in Colombo way back in 2013.

However with the scoreboard reading 210 for 4, Thirimanne was undone by a Sam Curran delivery which swung into the left hander, to take the batsman's inside edge and be caught behind by Jos Butler.

This was the Thirimanne and this was the innings that promised Sri Lanka so much, especially when he made his debut against England in Southampton in 2011.

In that game he faced Jimmy Anderson and Broad and batted for more than an hour in the first innings to reach double figures. In the second innings he batted for slightly less than three hours to score 38 runs in that drawn game.

Thirimanne eventually fell when his score reached 111. He scored his runs off 251 balls and also struck 12 well timed boundaries too.

Sri Lanka then found its most seasoned and experienced two batters at the crease, when former skipper Angelo Mathews walked in to join his current skipper Chandimal.

Chandimal who batted himself in and who also dispatched three loose deliveries to the boundary looked confident in helping to boost Sri Lanka's total.

However with the scoreboard reading 242 for 4, Chandimal's firm push at a Jack Leach delivery spinning away from him only saw the ball going straight to Joe Root who was fielding at slip. 

His wicket went completely against the run of play, leaving Mathews to play with the rest of the five batsmen to follow.  

Niroshan Dickwella, the wicket keeper who had a dismal test match so far with the gloves, arrived at the crease to prove his worth at least the bat.

However there was nothing heroic about his batting except that he scratched around for a tad longer than usual and eventually succumbed to a Dom Bess off spin delivery that he nicked to wicket keeper Butler.

His shot selection despite being appalling, also saw him overdoing his reverse sweep further exposing his inability to cope with spin bowling.

Dickwella scored 29 runs off 74 balls and put on a partnership of 48 runs for the 6th wicket with Mathews.

With so many wicket keepers in the side and with plenty of talented batsmen on the sidelines, it appears that Dickwella's days as a test cricketer may be numbered. 

He has been persisted with for so long despite being one of the few test cricketers to play over 40 test matches and score 2000 test runs, with no century against his name as yet.

Meanwhile Mathew’s monumental effort in seeing the Sri Lankans post a reasonable total to defend continued whilst wickets kept tumbling at the other end.

Dasun Shanaka came to the crease and went back after facing five deliveries when he stepped out to Leach and literally yorked himself to be bowled for 4, whilst Hasaranga De Silva struck 2 boundaries in T20 style before he too departed.

However it was a useful partnership between number 10 batsman Dilruwan Perera and Mathews which yielded 38 runs that eventually saw the game being taken into the 5th day.

Dilruwan Perera batted well in scoring 24 off 38 balls inclusive of five technically correct cricketing strokes, before he was undone and stumped off  a Leach delivery which ended with a third umpire referral.

Perera who already has scored 4 test match fifties in test match cricket which also includes two knocks in the 90's, proved that his batting talent and skill ought to be used much higher up the order. 

Angelo's Mathews'  long vigil at the crease saw him face 219 deliveries and strike only a mere 4 boundaries, before he was the last to depart, caught by Root at slip off Jack Leach.

Incidentally, this was the first time since Sri Lanka's inaugural test match way back in 1982, that two visiting spinners have taken two five wicket hauls in the same game.

Sri Lanka was bundled out eventually for 359 runs leaving England to score 73 to win the game.

England too did not have it easy when their run chase began, with both their openers Zak Crawley and Dom Sibley falling cheaply to Embuldeniya once again.  

The visitors soon found themselves to be 14 for 3 when skipper Joe Root was run out in a horrendous mix up with Bairstow.

With panic setting in, England's debutant Dan Lawrence joined Bairstow and the two batters saw their team home to the close of play, with no further damage being done.

England will resume day five needing to knock off the balance 36 runs to go 1 up in the two test series. 

But what will be more remarkable is that when they do they will go on to register their 5th consecutive win against Sri Lanka on their own home soil.