Kevin Pietersen showed some welcome form on the final morning at Lord’s as England built steadily, although not flamboyantly, on their lead and were 267 ahead by lunch. He and Alastair Cook took their third-wicket stand to 127 before Pietersen fell to Rangana Herath, but although it added to his dismissal tally against left-arm spin it was a cracking delivery.
Pietersen dominated the scoring during the morning and reached his fifty from 85 balls. Although he was still battling his technique at times far more shots were coming off the middle particularly when he drove two boundaries in an over off both Chanaka Welegedara and Suranga Lakmal. He took a blow on the wrist from Lakmal, but had just one narrow escape on 54 when a leg-side flick eluded a diving Prasanna Jayawardene.
Surprisingly, it was half an hour into the day before Herath was introduced by which time Pietersen had bedded in. Sri Lanka used up one of their reviews for a bat-pad appeal with Pietersen on 64 but it was never a convincing appeal. His scoring rate had slowed when Herath went over the wicket and, after padding one delivery away, watched a ball spin past his outside edge and hit off stump. This time it was just a fine piece of bowling.
Once Sri Lanka didn’t manage any early breakthroughs they quickly went into containment mode. Tillakaratne Dilshan was off the field with a hairline fracture to his thumb meaning Kumar Sangakkara was in charge and he was left frustrated by a host of no-balls from his quick bowlers.
Cook didn’t do anything to move out of his comfort zone- adding just two boundaries and 26 runs in the session - and towards the latter part of the session England’s run-rate actually dropped when logic suggested it should have been going the other way. Dilhara Fernando bowled a decent spell from the Pavilion End, beating Cook a few times from round the wicket, but both he and Herath - who sent down a 10-over spell for 21 runs - were allowed to bowl without any undue pressure being applied.
In that respect Pietersen’s departure wasn’t a bad thing for England and Ian Bell opened his innings with three boundaries in an over off Fernando to get the innings moving again. In his current form, Bell is an ideal man to give England a quick surge after lunch.
Dilshan all but ruled out of Lord’s Test
The Sri Lanka captain, Tillakaratne Dilshan, has suffered a hairline fracture of his right thumb and will bat on the final day of the Lord’s Test only if “absolutely necessary”.
It was initially thought that Dilshan had just a badly bruised thumb after being hit twice by Chris Tremlett during his 193 in Sri Lanka’s first innings. But after remaining off the field on Monday, he was sent for more x-rays – which revealed bad news. A team spokesman confirmed on Tuesday morning: “He has suffered a hairline fracture. He will bat only if absolutely necessary.”
Sri Lanka may yet be vulnerable in this second match of the series, as they proved in the first Test in Cardiff, if England decide to push for victory rather than settle for a draw on the match’s final day. Kumar Sangakkara, who captained Sri Lanka at this year’s World Cup, is leading the side in Dilshan’s absence.
Dilshan now seems likely to sit out his side’s tour match against Essex at Chelmsford and may yet be a doubt for the third Test, which starts at the Rose Bowl on 16 June. (www.guardian.co.uk)