I awake to find that I’ve been bitten even with mosquito spray and I want to give it a good scratch. There’s time this morning for a quick recce of the hotel in daylight and the views are stunning.
At the ground, I met Percy the professional cheerleader for Sri Lankan cricket- he’s paid by the cricket authorities to wave the flag for Sri Lanka at home and abroad and has been doing so for years…he’s quite a character. What hasn’t been going for years is England’s latest opening pair of Burns and Leach. As expected Leach leaves early as does Jennings and Stokes (after Burns make 59) but by lunch England have reached 131/4 off 30 overs a lead 86 at lunch. All reviews by both sides were used in one session. When did that last Happen?
Overall the morning session is a bit scratchy but some determination shown. Root taking root; overall playing the sweep – orthodox or reverse – to 40% plus deliveries is not always the best way to play spin. Only one Sri Lankan batsman did that yesterday. Everyone else used their wrists and hands. So it’s no surprise that all reviews used. Poor shot selection by England batsmen here but they have been let off by some sloppy SL outcricket. No one in real control! Buttler seems to be playing it straighter than most so the afternoon looks promising.
The lunch entertainment is provided by a magnificent local dance troupe who certainly knew how to entertain and keep going especially in this heat! Classes in this traditional form are a compulsory part of the curriculum at school.
The England team offered a Q&A session for those displaced tourists (the photo of whom has been entitled the ‘Barmy Army’ in some media…which we are NOT!). It was postponed as too many wickets had fallen, and the team need to revisit the game plan. It’s nice to know they had one! Other than just sweeping!
Local forecast for rain has now changed, England may need something else to save them!
There are fewer people in the ground as the heat and tourism take its toll so an afternoon session stroll finds me with the most vociferous Sri Lankan fans who are clearly not happy. The New England game plan seems to work whilst Sri Lanka hit the buffers. Tea is taken at 259/6.
Shortly after tea Root leaves for a fine 124 – good effort, will help his confidence in leading the side but with too much sweeping for my liking. Curran departs first ball and England are 301/8 leading by 255.
Hour and a bit after tea…bad light and England reach 324/9 and a lead of 278 – 15 overs still to go. Some delaying tactics by Sri Lankan were not liked but with lightning nearby play was called off for bad light. The rains duly arrived with the thunder and I have reached the 8th day of planned cricket and first rain with less than 45 mins play due. Foakes 51no…another fine knock, no fuss no fancy stuff, good old fashioned batting.
England should have enough to win tomorrow or Sunday weather permitting. The drive back to the hotel was interesting as road sense has its own meaning here and as I write this, it’s monsoon time at the hotel as water starts trickling through the ceiling! The reception staff sent two maintenance men to look at the leak and hurriedly left. So I had to trounce to reception to get a bucket to catch the water and the room was serviced. What happens when it rains again…possibly during the night remains to be seen.
But the whole experience- except the excessive sweeping – is the most tremendous fun!