Day 2 dawns with Foakes poised on 87no and with only Leach and Anderson for company.
By way of background and atmospherics, it’s worth pointing out that the weather forecast for regular rain is as accurate here in Sri Lanka as in the UK! ‘Warm and sultry’ would be the essential English understatement but to repeat a phrase I’ve used before ‘it ain’t ‘arf ‘ ot mum!’ In fact I don’t think I’ve ever been this hot with clothes on before other than on a BR train in an English heatwave! It’s a cliche but it’s like sitting in a sauna fully clothed! Even perspiration has perspiration! So, to do any form of physical activity in this must bring one’s sanity into question but then ‘mad dogs and Englishmen…’ but if you’re born and grew up here then it’s ‘normal’
So the efforts by Foakes yesterday and today are phenomenally monumental as he strokes and glides his way to a century on test debut- rumours have it that Bairstow is more injured than first thought so the keeping question can be deferred for a while.
England strike early and deep, Sri Lanka waste another review (3 out of 3) as the openers are dispatched quickly and the middle order looks as fragile as England’s this time yesterday. Lunch is reached at 42/4…300 behind with wickets shared equally between Anderson,Curran, Ali and Leach. Will Sri Lanka be all out by tea?
Tea…136/5 Mathews 52no but tea taken a shade early as Burns was injured/hit but made it off the field ok. Sri Lanka’s session as the batsmen looked increasingly settled and the heat rose!
Once Mathews went, it was all a bit of a procession other than a bit of last wicket robust hitting as Sri Lanka made 203 leaving England a tricky half hour or so but with a lead of 139, it’s England’s to lose from here! Not that I expected to write that at 1030 yesterday! Ali bowled with purpose and intent taking four wickets, Leach two and Rashid two. But we’ve seen both top orders look a bit brittle so far but this is a chance for Burns and Jennings to cement their places.
But the star of the show remains Ben Foakes (Stokes of that ilk was poor today…what had he done since getting back in the side in August? Other than manfully hobbling on one leg in the ODIs). Foakes kept very well, took catches, a stumping and also stood that little bit nearer for the quicks than Bairstow and hence the slips.
So far that’s all Foakes!
Apart from…someone who thought it was too hot for clothes and streaked across the ground in the interval between innings and was welcomed with open arms into the bosom of the Barmies; and Burns and Jennings adding 38 by the close of play for a lead of 177 at the end of Day 2.