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Plunkett proves a team player

Liam Plunkett speaks to us about his and England's fine day

By Rob Barnett

Liam Plunkett would have been happy for Stuart Broad to add to his hat-trick by ending Sri Lanka’s innings, even though it would have denied Plunkett a first Test five-for.

Broad’s three in three, which strangely was not initially noticed by the players and most of the crowd, was part of four wickets for one run in nine balls that left the tourists nine down.

Plunkett and Broad were bowling in tandem at the time and continued to do so as Rangana Herath and Nuwan Pradeep held up England by adding 28 for the last wicket.

Plunkett eventually ended the innings on 257 by having Pradeep caught behind, earning figures of 5-64. In his previous 10 Tests, the seamer had taken no more than three scalps in an innings.

Speaking exclusively to ecb.co.uk, Plunkett said: “At that point I was happy for Stuey to finish it off.

“He was bowling well himself and obviously picked that hat-trick up that no-one knew about. It was meant to be for me to get that five and I was happy that he didn’t get it.”

Broad’s feat, which he first performed versus India in 2011 at Trent Bridge, was initially undetected because it spanned two overs.

He crucially snared Kumar Sangakkara for 79, thanks to Ian Bell’s stunning gully catch in his 100th Test, at the end of his 12th over.

After Plunkett had Dhammika Prasad caught behind for nought, Broad then accounted for both Dinesh Chandimal, for 45, and Shaminda Eranga via edges.

Liam Plunkett snares Dhammika Prasad in the over that split Stuart Broad's hat-trick, creating a distraction that disguised Broad's feat

Plunkett explained the lack of immediate recognition for Broad's hat-trick, saying: “I think there was a bit of a break in between so not many people realised that.

“For him to get that hat-trick is a massive achievement, his second in Test cricket, but I managed to get my fifth so I was happy with that too.”

Plunkett was given a rapturous reception for his five scalps by a Headingley crowd that has been his home one for a season and half now.

The former Durham man delighted them this morning by flattening Dimuth Karunaratne’s leg stump. In the afternoon session Plunkett himself took two wickets in two balls, having Mahela Jayawardene held at slip and Lahiru Thirimanne pouched at short-leg following a vicious bouncer. His fourth and fifth wickets came after tea.

“It’s awesome, especially here now on (my) home ground of Headingley,” he said.

“It was great. All the bowlers bowled really well. We created so many chances in the first session, we picked up a few more in the second and finished them off in the third.”

Plunkett expressed his satisfaction at England, who won the toss, limiting their opponents to a below-par score that Alastair Cook and Sam Robson appeared to put into context by being relatively untroubled in reaching 36 for no wicket at stumps.

“Bowling first, we would have took 250, which we did. The guys bowled well and we finished off well with the bat,” he concluded.

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