England 342/6 (Cook 96, Morgan 79, Prior 73*)
After being put in to bat, England recovered from an early wobble to put themselves in a solid position
Matt Prior. Honourable mentions to Alastair Cook and Eoin Morgan, but Prior stole the show in the final session. He had not played a test match innings since his century in the final Ashes test in January, but did not play like a man who hasn’t batted in six months.Sri Lanka didn’t help their cause by persevering with the negative offside bowling line that had frustrated Cook and Morgan, but Prior’s fluency through the offside was a joy to behold. He punished some ordinary bowling with ruthless efficiency and lively partnerships with Morgan and Broad ensured England ended the day in the ascendancy.
Alastair Cook looked set for a well-earned century before he uncharacteristically hoiked a short ball from Dilhara Fernando to the onrushing Maharoof at mid-on on 96. It would have been century number 18 for Cook to take him one step closer to the record of 22 set by an Englishman but it wasn’t to be, although today’s failure to reach three figures will surely only prolong the inevitable as Cook looks certain to go way beyond Hammond, Cowdrey & Boycott’s total.
The pitch should be good for batting and with some capable batsmen still to come England could well have their sights on a total of above 450, especially if Prior can continue his form from today. Who knows what we will see from Sri Lanka’s batsmen, although Dilshan’s lack of confidence in them at the toss suggests England will fancy their chances with the ball, especially with the towering attack they have selected here.