Sri Lanka 231/1 (Dilshan 127*, Paranavitana 65)
Sri Lanka throw down the gauntlet with a titanic opening stand that puts them right back in the match and renews lost confidence from the debacle of Monday.
Tillakeratne Dilshan. Starved of the strike early on, Dilshan eventually produced a swash-buckling innings not too disimilar to the one that tormented England at the World Cup. With Paranavitana struggling for any rhythm early on, the Sri Lankan captain shouldered the responsibility of his team’s task. Whether it was a pre-meditated plan that Paranavitana would play the foil to Dilshan’s increasingly aggressive strokes is unclear, but his first century in 18 months and first against England for eight years showed a resolve that many didn’t anticipate going into the day. He dealt with the new ball effortlessly and was cautious but patient against Swann, destroying the loose deliveries.
Alastair Cook dropping Paranavitana on 13. The extra bounce did for the cautious Paranavitana, but what did for Cook not snapping this dolly up is a mystery. Although he is a relative newcomer to the cordon, he hardly had to move as the ball carried at a perfect height, but down she went, costing 52 runs. England’s fielding was perhaps a bigger concern than anything else on day two as the collective frustration noticeable throughout the team seemed to channel particularly on the sloppiness and concentration levels in the field.
It goes without saying that the key to either side winning this match could well rest on how quickly Dilshan returns to the pavilion. With the long tail and the team possibly still dazed and confused from Monday, the Sri Lankan captain will hope Sangakkara and Mahela Jayawardene have picked up the confidence and belief that should now be flowing through the team after today’s proceedings. As for England, James Anderson’s lack of presence was pivotal in the increased level of comfort that the Sri Lankans purveyed as the day went on. The length was too similar and predictable from the seamers leaving Strauss with no options and nowhere to go. The fact Kevin Pietersen was thrown the ball relatively early on is a testament to that. Only Broad offered any sort of constant pressure and even then, it was tidy rather than terrifying. The match could rest on the morning session alone.