Anderson earns Finn praise
England paceman Steven Finn hailed the “exceptional” ability of James Anderson after an evenly-fought first day of the second Test against Sri Lanka in Colombo.
Anderson reduced the hosts to 30 for three before Mahela Jayawardene, who struck a crucial unbeaten 180 in the first Test in Galle last week, steadied the home team with a knock of 105 - his 31st Test hundred.
Thilan Samaraweera added 54 and Angelo Mathews was unbeaten on 41 in a total of 238 for six, of which Anderson took three.
Finn, who removed Prasanna Jayawardene late on for a sole breakthrough on his return to the side following the injury to Stuart Broad, said: “Jimmy is an exceptional bowler and he showed that again today with three early wickets and being consistent throughout the day.
“He’s someone that I’ve looked up to throughout my career and since I’ve come into the team he has helped me vastly and hopefully I can still keep learning from him.”
Mahela Jayawardene and Samaraweera added 124 for the fourth wicket, forcing the tourists to bide their time.
“You’ve just got to be patient with the ball swinging or if it’s doing anything you still have to be patient, you have to sit in and wait for batsmen to make mistakes,” Finn added.
“That’s what we tried to do today and I feel every bowler out there has done that today; we’ve played the patient game and we’re going to have to do it tomorrow as well.”
Finn, playing his first Test since June, continued: “I think we’ve had a pretty good day there, it was a good day of attritional Test cricket. (Mahela) Jayawardene played fantastically well and kept us at bay for a fair while but I felt that we stayed patient and at the end of the day it’s pretty even I’d say.
“There were a couple of nerves but feel as if I’ve played enough Test cricket or enough cricket in general now to deal with them and use them in a good manner. I was quite happy with how today went. I would have liked a couple more wickets, but that’s the way it goes.”
Despite his side’s early wobble, Sri Lanka captain Jayawardene refused to criticise his top order.
However, he accepted his side are slightly short of where they anticipated to be after the opening day.
“Losing three wickets up front put ourselves on the back foot,” he said. “But they have had a decent run. Kumar (Sangakkara) has been in wonderful form, but he has missed out a couple of times.
“Jimmy’s bowling well up front so we need to make sure he doesn't get too many wickets. That’s where they are taking control of the situation.
“The wicket played pretty well. We expected it to be flat. We are probably 30-40 runs short with the loss of two or three wickets more.
“The wicket is pretty slow and, on top of that, England bowled very well today. With five bowlers they were much more disciplined, they keep us in tact and bowled to their fields. It wasn’t that easy for us to score runs so credit should go to them as well.
“We really need to fight ourselves back into the game tomorrow.”
The skipper pinpointed his basic approach as a reason for continued success.
“I just keep things very simple. I keep my cool when wickets are falling, I just try and bat the way I want to, I have a gameplan and try to execute that. The focus has been just to do simple things,” he added.