On an overcast morning at Headingley, there is usually only one thing to do and true to form Alastair Cook had no hesitation in backing his bowlers and putting the Sri Lankans into bat. The ball swung for England, who were able to cause problems throughout the day even when partnerships looked to tip things back in favour of the tourists. Dismissing Sri Lanka for 257 will have pleased captain Cook immensely, it was important for England’s bowlers to perform after winning what is usually an important toss at Leeds and they duly delivered. Ending the day with both Cook and Sam Robson unbeaten capped a near-perfect day for the hosts, who will hope to bat long tomorrow and capitalise on the work of their bowling attack.
After ridding himself of the albatross around his neck and making his way to his first test century at Lord’s, the Sri Lanka master was again a thorn in England’s side. The left-hander found the boundary with fluency and looked in good touch but was handed a number of lifelines as England left nobody but themselves to blame for not snaring his prized scalp sooner. Sangakkara was twice dropped and survived a close run out. Firstly Matt Prior put down a chance behind the stumps, looking to celebrate the wicket before having the ball fully under control. Just over 15 overs later and it was Moeen Ali’s turn to let Sangakkara off the hook, putting down a chance at point. It is hard to bemoan these chances too much given the strong position they sit in after day one, however Sangakkara’s 79 could have been far less and seen England sit even more comfortably in the contest.
There was immense confusion in the media box at Headingley, but the end result was clear, Stuart Broad now has two Test-match hat-tricks – the first English to do so. Broad struck to dismiss Sangakkara with the last ball of his over before Liam Plunkett piled more misery onto Sri Lanka. This double strike seemed to cause a memory lapse for the England team and the crowd who, after Broad took the wickets of Dinesh Chandimal and Shaminda Eranga had no idea that the England seamer had taken his hat-trick. Nevertheless, the tannoy soon informed the crowd and indeed Broad to his achievement and he was eventually given a more appropriate ovation.
It has been a long road back to Test cricket for Plunkett and his 5-64 including the important wicket of Mahela Jayawardene showed once again why he has been brought back into the side. Bowling with good control and clear pace, he used the short ball well and successfully and adds genuine variety to the England attack and years of hard work to get back into the side are paying off.
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BIOGRAPHY: Ethan Hazard
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