Cook leads England riposte
England recovered emphatically from the loss of three early wickets to take the honours on day one of the second npower Test at Lord’s.
Tillakaratne Dilshan’s surprising decision to bowl first initially paid dividends as the hosts were reduced to 22 for three.
However, Alastair Cook led a strong fightback only to fall four short of a third hundred in as many Test innings.
Cook and Ian Bell shared the first of two century stands, Eoin Morgan and Matt Prior combining for the other. Their efforts helped England to close on 342 for six from the 88 overs Sri Lanka managed.
Dilshan this morning opted to defy recent convention at the home of cricket, encouraged by a green-tinged pitch, despite sunny skies and a promising forecast for the first two days.
At the toss, Andrew Strauss announced Steven Finn had been preferred to Jade Dernbach in place of the injured James Anderson.
Sri Lanka made two changes with Dilhara Fernando, who has recovered from a knee injury, and Chanaka Welegedara replacing fellow seamer Thisara Perera and spinner Ajantha Mendis.
Dilshan’s decision initially paid off as Strauss, Jonathan Trott and Kevin Pietersen fell in the first hour when seamers Welegedara and Suranga Lakmal bowled unchanged.
Left-armer Welegedara trapped Strauss in front with a delivery that hit the left-hander around the knee roll and Trott went likewise, playing across the line to Lakmal, a right-armer. The batsman’s review was in vain.
Pietersen edged Lakmal to Dilshan, who took a smart catch to his right at gully.
Bell, who pulled his first ball for four, continued his fluent form, although he edged Lakmal just short of the slips on eight and 26.
Between those nicks he unfurled a couple of typically classy drives off the same bowler. Cook capitalised on rare bad deliveries, including a couple from Farveez Maharoof.
Fernando was surprisingly held back until the 22nd over, and he could not dislodge Cook and Bell by lunch.
With the sun beating down and only a gentle breeze, the fourth-wicket pair progressed serenely after the interval, Cook twice neatly driving Maharoof to the boundary.
Cook heralded his half-century by pulling Fernando for his ninth four and immediately repeated the stroke. Bell matched that landmark and brought up the century alliance with a single off spinner Rangana Herath.
Welegedara, reintroduced more than an hour after lunch, removed Bell for 52 in his first over back. The right-hander’s edge this time carried to first slip where Tharanga Paranavitana held on, ending England’s highest fourth-wicket stand against Sri Lanka.
Morgan announced himself with a couple of fours and by lifting Herath over wide long-on for six. Cook, temporarily becalmed, then cut Fernando for consecutive boundaries.
Cook and Morgan resumed after tea similarly untroubled as the opener and Bell had done following lunch, easing to a fifty partnership.
Cook was on course for three figures until he top-edged Fernando to Maharoof at midwicket, aiming to reach the landmark with a pull.
Morgan took a liking to Dilshan’s spin – striking him down the ground for four and six – en route to his half-century. He had enjoyed a moment of fortune on 35 when he inside-edged Fernando for four.
Along with Morgan, Prior ensured England’s scoring rate remained healthy. The latter rattled along to a half-century from 63 balls, including nine fours.
Sri Lanka’s previously high standards in the field began to slip as the day wore on, Morgan and Prior’s hundred stand coming via two byes off Welegedara after Prasanna Jayawardene fumbled.
The first over of a bowling change yielded a breakthrough for the third consecutive wicket when Lakmal’s review for lbw against Morgan was successful. Morgan’s 79 featured 10 fours and two maximums.
Stuart Broad also wasted little time, lifting Lakmal over the top for four and Prior punished the same bowler late in the day. They finished unbeaten on 17 and 73 respectively in a final session that saw 177 runs come in 36 overs.