England took under 47 overs to bundle out Sri Lanka for a paltry first innings total of 135 runs in their first innings in the first test match played in the Moose Clothing Cup 2021 at the Galle Esplanade last Thursday.
Sri Lanka's abysmal score, their lowest ever recorded first innings total at the Galle Esplanade, even had its batting coach Grant Flower saying that it was the worst batting performance he had seen Sri Lanka play.
"I have been with the team for almost a year and I am lost for words" the dejected looking batting coach went on to tell the press at a post match media conference.
"Each batsman needs to take the blame for the way they batted, except Dasun Shanaka who was out in the most unusual fashion." summed up Flower.
By the end of day 1, England trailed Sri Lanka's first innings total by a mere 8 runs with eight wickets intact and looked well set in posting a commanding total, with both overnight batsmen in skipper Joe Root and Johnny Bairstow already notching up an unbroken 110 run stand.
Whilst Joe Root remained unbeaten on 66, Jonny Bairstow had already carved 47 runs against his name.
Their partnership off 184 balls was more of a demonstration of how test cricket ought to be played.
It was a lesson well worth learnt, as every run they stitched together was like gold dust in this format of test match cricket.
Their application, shot selection and even playing the ball on its merit, by either reaching out to smother the spin or playing it late from well inside the batting crease, was simply a delight to watch.
In fact they hit only nine boundaries in total, as they opted to use the traditional sweep unlike Sri Lanka's batsmen who got themselves out playing the reverse sweep.
Even cricketing pundits were left head scratching in their quest to place a finger on what exactly caused the Sri Lankan batsmen to be skittled like ninepins at home and especially to conditions that they are so accustomed to playing on.
Did it stem from Asantha De Mel the Chief Selector sticking yet again to his bunch of failed cricketers or was it another bad day in the office for Sri Lanka's national cricketers?
Whatever the reason may be it certainly did send its ardent cricket supporters and followers into frenzy, as they soon took to social media to vent their frustrations.
It also had the former England's skippers Nasser Hussein, Michael Vaughan and also former Sri Lankan skipper Kumar Sangakkara voice their opinions on the shocking events that took place in Sri Lanka’s first innings.
“Abysmal would be kind. I think it was absolutely ridiculous. It was the most farcical 46 overs I had seen in my life" Nasser Hussein went on to say.
Kumar Sangakkara who was a bit more diplomatic in his response stated “It was a very poor performance. Batsmen got out to playing silly shots. Cricketers were not attuned to play test cricket when they took the field. Batsmen did not have any semblance of control over their technique. Overall in terms of technique, in terms of preparation, in terms of reading situations and in terms of decision making Sri Lanka was absolutely poor."
Michael Vaughan on the other hand tweeted, “Those 46.11 overs have been the worst possible advertisement for test cricket... It's supposed to be the pinnacle...that was utter garbage Sri Lanka...#SLvENG...anyway time for a brew #OnOn"
Earlier Sri Lanka started off their innings with Kusal Perera punching Broad over his head for a boundary and also went on to drive him through the covers for another.
That was all the glamour Sri Lanka enjoyed for a brief moment, as the carnage was soon to follow.
It all commenced in the 7th over of the innings when Stuart Broad setting a leg slip for Lahiru Thirimanne, angled one across the left hander to have him snapped up by Johnny Bairstow.
Two balls later, one down bat Kusal Mendis was out for a duck, his fourth consecutive one in test cricket, when he was caught behind fishing at a Broad delivery that he should have left alone.
Broad sensing that the talented right hander plays more away from his body with hardly any foot movement at the start of an innings, then bowled the perfect line, slightly off the fourth stump to have the batsman play at it and knick it to wicket keeper Jos Butler.
The dismissals of both Thirimanne and Mendis also brought about two unwanted records for both batsmen.
Lahiru Thirimanne is playing in his 37th test match and 71st innings, now owns the world record for the lowest batting average recorded by a top order batsmen who has played over 50 test match innings in the history of 143 years of test cricket.
His average now stands at 21.13.
The record was previously held by Bangladeshi batsman Javed Omar who averaged 22.07.
Kusal Mendis on the other hand equaled a national record for the most number of consecutive ducks (4), which was held by former wicket keeper batsman, the late Guy De Alwis.
Opener Kusal Perera, who was shaping well at the other end and looked in fine touch, then hit the most uncharacteristic shot against the run of play.
His reverse sweep off spinner Dom Bess only went as far as the first slip, where it lobbed up and ended up nestling in the safe palms of Joe Root.
Sri Lanka who was soon left tottering at 25 for 3, then found their two senior most cricketers in skipper Dinesh Chandimal and Angelo Mathews taking the score to 65 for no further loss at lunch.
However after lunch and with the scoreboard reading 81 for 3, both Mathews and Chandimal were both sent back to the pavilion.
Mathews' attempt at cutting a broad delivery saw the batsman caught at first slip by Root and two balls later, Chandimal's attempted drive was well held by a diving Sam Curran in the covers off left arm spinner Jack Leach.
However both Chandimal and Matthews achieved two personal landmarks during their innings.
Chandimal went on to post his 4000th run in test cricket, whilst his senior partner Mathews also notched up his 60000th run in this longer format of the game.
Thereafter with Sri Lanka not measuring up enough to play cricket at this level, then went on to provide England's off spinner Dom Best his best bowling figures in an innings.
His 5 for 30 off 10.1 overs was his second five wicket haul in test cricket.
Sri Lanka were eventually bundled out for 135 runs off 46.1 overs.
England's innings too did not get off to the perfect start that they expected, as their openers Zak Crawley and Dom Sibley were soon sent off packing by Sri Lanka's left arm spinner Lasith Embuldeniya.
The left arm spinner had Sibley caught at first slip by Thirimanne and Crawley was caught by Hasaranga De Silva at mid-off, when the batsman tried to loft one over the bowler's head.
England who soon found themselves at 17 for 2, were then ably supported by two talented batsmen in Root and Bairstow, who took them to the close of play, whilst ensuring that no further damage was done.
England resumes tomorrow morning with Joe Root and Johnny Bairstow looking well set and displaying signs that England are well on their way to post a commanding first innings total and take the game away from Sri Lanka.