Sri Lanka v England - Second Test review
Finally, at long last, England have recorded a win on the subcontinent, their first test win all winter and they will now go into the summer tests remaining at the top of the ICC test rankings.
England 460 & 97-2 beat Sri Lanka 275 & 278 by 8 wickets
Not without the occasional, perhaps inevitable batting hiccup in the last innings, England cruised to an eight wicket win over Sri Lanka in Colombo. The 94 runs required proving a considerably easier task than the last low total England tried to chase down in Abu Dhabi.
It is no coincidence that the first time England’s batting line-up has posted a significant first-innings score is the first time that England have emerged victorious. A thunderous, top-class knock of 151 from Kevin Pietersen from just 165 balls set the tone as England passed 400 for the first time this winter, posting 460 and a lead of 185 over Sri Lanka’s first innings total of 275, a score largely indebted to another hundred from the imperious Mahela Jayawardene.
Another strong showing from England’s bowling attack saw Sri Lanka bowled out for 278 second time around, with a superb bowling performance from Graeme Swann who finished with 6-106 and 10 wickets in the match. Special mention should also go to James Anderson who, despite only picking up four wickets across two innings, was a constant threat to the Sri Lankan batsmen with his near-perfect line and length throughout.
94 to win then in the final innings and despite the early losses of Andrew Strauss and Jonathan Trott, the win was never in doubt; Pietersen and Cook steering England home in 19 overs.
The strong showing from England in this game was a performance we had become accustomed to before this winter tour. Unfortunately the victory in Colombo goes to show that if sensible batting had prevailed throughout the winter, England would not have been forced to endure such a torrid winter. The bowling performances have never been in question. Both spinners and seamers have performed consistently well throughout the five tests.
Chasing just 145 in Abu Dhabi against Pakistan, England should have won no question. It was not a difficult chase and it was England’s poor mental state rather than the pitch or the bowlers that cost Strauss’ men a victory. The following test saw England bowl Pakistan out for just 99 but they could only post 141 in reply. A score of 400 would have put the game beyond Pakistan’s reach, but again England buckled. Two tests that should have been won, and had they been, England would have won the series. Again in the first test against Sri Lanka in Galle, England could only muster 193 in their first innings, and were bowled out second time around for 264, chasing over 340 to win against an average Sri Lankan attack. Even another hundred runs in their first innings would have brought victory, but again a poor mental approach let them down.
The excellent win in Colombo will have cast away some of the demons of the winter but there is no doubt that England will fly home thinking of just 1 test win out of 5; of missed opportunities and what might have been.