Righto! That’s us done for the day; join me tomorrow for whatever happens happening! Enjoy the rest of the weekend, such that such thing is possible given the morning.
Here’s Ali Martin’s report…
Jack Leach says he found some good rhythm in the afternoon, trying to land it with fizz by bowling as fast as he could. He’s found it hard this game having not got much cricket behind him, and the wicket’s slow so there’s not much room for error. He’s pleased that he’s improved through the match and still has stuff to think about, and oh yes! He has to “Control the controllables!” You love to hear it.
He goes on to talk about the sepsis and illness that have caused him grief lately, then says he’s much happier now that Bairstow and Lawrence have settled things.
I suppose he’ll just give an interview to Sky if not. Maybe he’ll film it himself.
I already can’t wait for the second Test, and hopefully someone has the presence of mind to film the chat during which Broad learns he’s being rested.
By the way, this isn’t the only cricketing beauty currently blessing us. There’s something extremely affirming about how the game has cared for us these last few months.
I’m feeling slightly calmer now, but there’s no greater inquisitor of mettle than Test cricket. How can your captain, scorer of 228 majestic first-innings runs, get himself dismissed while colliding with the bowler?
It’s the repetitive nature of it I think, and a game that necessarily stops after piece of play, during which everyone has a chance to remind themselves how terrified and excited they are, before doing the same thing again and again and again.
“I’d have sent in Broad at five in this situation,” advises Felix Wood. “Good for a quick 20 runs to break the back of the chase. Why I’m still not England coach is baffling, to be honest.”
Stuart Broad is about the only thing in world cricket that could possibly elevate this incredible situation and I’m going to use you every time I hear an outlandish suggestion that makes perfect sense. “Well, Felix would.”
Oh my absolute days, what an absolute day of “Test-match cricket” that was. Can it be tomorrow already please?
“Imagine supporting any other Test playing nation,” tweets @AsNaturalAsRain, “knowing they’ll mechanically knock off the 74 runs for perhaps the loss of a single late wicket. God bless this England team; God bless this game!”
Bad light ends play for the day! England need 36 runs tomorrow morning!
16th over: England 38-3 (Bairstow 11, Lawrence 7) Target 74 We’re meant to finish in four minutes, but the umpires can decide on another half hour if they fancy we can finish tonight; I doubt they’ll come to that conclusion, and in fact we’re done for the day.
“TMS link,” says Richard Turner. Why do they hide it?”
It’s a test of love.
15th over: England 38-3 (Bairstow 11, Lawrence 7) Target 74 Lawrence is navigating this so well, cutting two, then Embuldeniya hurls him a grenade which he does really well to avoid; to quote the late, great MC Ruff, “Rush, move, step inside”. Not until this day did I realise he was talking about cricket, and the ball rushes away for four leg byes. A single to cover follows, and this pair have done really to calm themselves.
14th over: England 31-3 (Bairstow 11, Lawrence 4) Target 74 Nice from Bairstow, who takes a single to leg, then Lawrence blocks before shovelling in that direction himself. Imagine the state of his neck hairs right now; it’s actually pretty moving to consider. You work your entire life to play Test cricket and suddenly you’re in a situation that is its zenith, apex and apotheosis. I’ve no idea how you process such thing; I’m half gone just thinking about it.
13th over: England 29-3 (Bairstow 10, Lawrence 3) Target 74 Bairstow is actually a pretty useful man to have out there at the moment – good against spin, quick between the wickets, confident in his ability, a point to think he’s proved. He takes two to cover, then a further single to retain the strike.
“I live in Italy and if I remember the last couple of seasons correctly, the overseas link is only available during UK based Test matches,” laments Richard Harman.
12th over: England 26-3 (Bairstow 7, Lawrence 3) Target 74 Bairstow gets down to reverse Perera and the turn takes the ball past bat, pad, shoulder, keeper, and pandemic, racing away for four byes! He’d’ve took it! A single follows via sweep, and this is a huge over for England, er … five from it. Forty-eight required.
11th over: England 21-3 (Bairstow 6, Lawrence 3) Target 74 Eeeeeeeeeeeeeeeesh! Embuldeniya has Lawrence dancing, crouching and shaking his tailfeather, properly working him over. First, he wears one on the glove, then he retreats at half-mast as one passes off stump with him nowhere near, then a forward defensive. Maiden, and oh my absolute days, I adore Test cricket.
“Inspired by your Sounds of Silence and Kim Thonger’s earlier magnificence,” says Brian Withington, “can I offer a humble ode to YDL, the only Essex boy in Galle”
‘Dan get your pads on in time, I know your part’ll go fine
Fly down those steps
And here you are
The only Essex boy in Gal-le.”
With apologies to Paul Simon.
10th over: England 21-3 (Bairstow 6, Lawrence 3) Target 74 Dan Lawrence, though; coming in at 14-3 after your captain, scorer of a first-innings doubleton, has been run out in hilarious circumstances. This is what you dream of and he’s looking good out there, missing with a slog-sweep but getting well outside the line so to do; they run a leg bye which brings Bairstow onto strike. And of course he looks to cut hard, missing entirely when Perera extracts some extra bounce; it’s just the way he plays.
9th over: England 20-3 (Bairstow 6, Lawrence 3) Target 74 Embuldeniya has two slips and a short leg as he wheels in; Lawrence knocks his first delivery towards cover, where a field ricket allows him a single. Five dots follow, and we’ve got scope for an extra half-hour when play finishes in 25 minutes, but the light will likely intervene to prevent that.
“What did they put in the drinks at the interval?” asks Charles Sheldrick; I’m not sure but I wish someone had slipped a valium in mine.
8th over: England 19-3 (Bairstow 6, Lawrence 2) Target 74 The fielders are getting progressively louder, as you would, but this is a quieter over in terms of action; Lawrence looks pretty composed out there, and takes a single to leg after Bairstow pokes around the corner. Nothing – nothing – comes close to Test cricket like this.
7th over: England 17-3 (Bairstow 5, Lawrence 1) Target 74 I’m standing up! A leading edge from Bairstow drops shy of gully, they run, and a direct hit, he’s gone! But the ball whizzes past the stumps and England have got this under complete control. Tow more singles follow.
6th over: England 14-3 (Bairstow 3, Lawrence 0) Target 74 How are your nerves Daniel Lawrence?!
WICKET! Root run out (Dickwella) 1 (England 14-3)
A glorious moment of pure, uncut England! Bairstow calls Root through for a quick single, he collides with the bowler and is run out well short of his ground. Just when we think we’ve seen it all, they show us that we’ve seen nothing! What more can this team do to amaze us?!
6th over: England 14-2 (Bairstow 3, Root 1) Target 74 Bairstow takes one to leg, then Root clumps a sweep to midwicket……..
“Could England snatch defeat from the jaws of victory?” is Ian Foorth’s entry into the OBO’s rhetorical question competition. “There are three recentish precedents for them scoring under 74 in a fourth innings run chase (though the targets were considerably larger on each occasion). NZ, Wellington 1978: target 137, scored 64. WI, Port of Spain 1994: target 194, scored 46. Pakistan, Abu Dhabi 2012: target 145, scored 72.”
I don’t know about you, but I’m excited! History has its eyes on us!
5th over: England 12-2 (Bairstow 2, Root 0) Target 74 The ball is doing plenty, but here’s Joe Root, poised to join the list of those to have faced balls on all five days of a Test.
WICKET! Crawley c Mendis b Embuldeniya 8 (England 12-2)
Hello darkness my old friend! Crawley plays a nondescript drive and edges to gully. Because a vision softly creeping, left its seeds while I was sleeping, and the vision that was planted in my brain, still remains.
5th over: England 12-1 (Crawley 8, Bairstow 2) Target 74 Have a look! Embuldeniya absolutely rags one past Crawley’s outside edge; that’s the ball Sibley thought he was getting.
4th over: England 12-1 (Crawley 8, Bairstow 2) Target 74 Bairstow gets underway with a reverse for one; I’m looking forward to his reaction when he seals the win with an edge for four to finish on a 27 not out that really shows everyone. Crawley then pokes a single before Bairstow finds himself totally square in the French cricket fashion – that doesn’t seem like a wise tactic – ticking off one more with another reverse, Crawley doing likewise with an edge.
3rd over: England 8-1 (Crawley 6, Bairstow 0) Target 74 This is a great opportunity for both these batsmen, Crawley seeking to establish and Bairstow to re-establish. Embudeniya’s third ball gets the former face on and he wears it on the pad; there’s an appeal which is rejected. But this is intense stuff now, and Crawley top-edges the next one, which drops to where gully isn’t.
2nd over: England 8-1 (Crawley 6, Bairstow 0) Target 74 Perera deceives Crawley with another which holds its line and he’s nicked it! But Dickwella can’t hang on, and Crawley takes advantage, standing on stilts to drive four through point before gloving past leg slip for one. This is great stuff; it’s a shame Sri Lanka don’t have another 70 or so.
1st over: England 3-1 (Crawley 1, Bairstow 0) Target 74 This is fun!
WICKET! Sibley b Embuldeniya 2 (England 3-1)
Hello old friend! After finding healthy turn, Embuldeniya slings down the arm ball and Sibley confidently allows it to go past, losing his off peg in the process! That is extremely well bowled and also extremely amusing.
1st over: England 3-0 (Crawley 1, Sibley 2) Target 74 Given the weather, I wonder if England will try to finish this here and nar, and Crawley takes Embuldeniya’s loosener for one to cover, then Sibley nudges two into the on side.
Back to England’s spinners, we’ll get a truer gauge of where they’re at from the India tour. But afternoons like this will get them closer to where they want to be for that. Right, here we go…
“Given the comment about Sri Lanka’s being one of the worst batting displays he’s ever seen,” says Richard Hirst, “England have a high (or low) bar to aim for in the second innings, but I reckon they should be up to the job.”
Over the years, I’ve had the naches of narrating some absolutely sensational collapses, but to do this one would be the rarest of pleasures.
“Three more wickets in the day and Joe Root has a big incentive to be not out overnight,” says Phil Russell.
Here’s the answer, for once you’ve had a think about what that might be.
“It’s been a couple of Tests now that the TMS overseas link no longer appears at the top of the bbc.com live feed,” emails Jem Bosatta. “The Guardian used to fish it out – has any listener fished it out for you?”
Help a brother out?
That’s a really good effort from both sides. Sri Lanka fought back well but ultimately you can’t get rolled for 135 and expect to get very far. England, meanwhile, came back really well this afternoon, their spinners especially. Both Bess and Leach have a bit of something; can they use what they’ve done and what they’ve learnt to take the next step/
WICKET! Mathews c Root b Leach 71 (Sri Lanka all out 359) England need 74 to win!
Fifer for Leach! Mathews looks to guide his fifth ball down to third man for one, but instead he feathers a catch to Root at one! I’m not sure the light will stick around for that to be sorted tonight, but even England will struggle to ruin this. Imagine if they do though!
136th over: Sri Lanka 359-9 (Mathews 71, Fernando 0) Wood begins his 21st over with some short stuff from around the wicket. It’s hard to tell from norf Landan, but I’m wondering if the light has dropped so maybe he’s getting it in while he can. Mathews, who hasn’t always looked comfy against short stuff, sends the fourth ball to midwicket for one, and again Fernando survives. Surely we’ll shee Shtuart shoon? Anyway, that’s drinks.
135th over: Sri Lanka 358-9 (Mathews 70, Fernando 0) Mathews is into reverse-sweeping stance as Leach releases the ball, sending four through gully; Leach responds by beating the outside edge and appealing for another stumping, but not this time. Mathews eases his fifth delivery behind square on the off side, and Fernando, with two slips and a short leg crowding his personal space, survives the final ball of the over.
134th over: Sri Lanka 353-9 (Mathews 65, Fernando 0) Mathews is looking to go, having a fat swing then refusing a single after pulling a bouncer to deep square. In commentary they’re still re-umpiring the stumping but it’s pretty clear to me that there was nothing behind the line, while back in the middle, Mathews pulls another short one and this time he does take the run, leaving Fernando two balls to see away; he does.
133rd over: Sri Lanka 352-9 (Mathews 64, Fernando 0) Mathews will sure have to go now. Sri Lanka lead by 66, and even England will struggle to collapse for that.