England take control in Colombo

Wed, 04 Apr 11:46:00 2012

England dominated day two of the second Test in Colombo to trail Sri Lanka by 121 runs with nine first-innings wickets remaining.

Alastair Cook England - 0

Andrew Strauss (61) and Alastair Cook (77 not out) both scored half-centuries as the tourists ended on 154 for one at stumps after having bowled Sri Lanka out for 275.

An opening partnership of 122 enabled England to assume a commanding position at the P Sara Oval after Graeme Swann starred with the ball earlier in the day.

It was England's best opening partnership of the series, following stands of nought and 31 in the first Test defeat at Galle, with the openers content to play the waiting game and unfurl controlled scoring shots when loose deliveries were available.

The afternoon session made for rather tedious viewing as only 72 runs were added in 32 overs, but the application and determination of the tourists' batsmen was in stark and welcome contrast for their supporters following abject showings this winter.

Cook, on 20, offered Sri Lanka their only chance when he was dropped at short leg by Lahiru Thirimanne in an otherwise unerring and resolute innings.

Strauss – under pressure after having his place intensely scrutinised following another disappointing performance in Galle – provided a superb platform for his side alongside Cook as the pair made Sri Lanka's bowling attack appear innocuous and impotent.

The England captain was eventually dismissed by the part-time bowler Tillakaratne Dilshan for 61 as he attempted to cut a delivery which was too full for the shot and was snaffled sharply behind the stumps by Prasanna Jayawardene.

But Cook continued in unwavering fashion as he steered his side to stumps with no further wickets falling and the trusty Jonathan Trott – a centurion at Galle – as a solid partner.

Earlier, off-spinner Swann took three wickets for four runs in just over six overs to clean up the Sri Lankan tail shortly before lunch.

Swann finished with figures of four for 75 as Sri Lanka were bowled out for a below par score after winning the toss and electing to bat.

Sri Lanka, who resumed on 238 for six, added just 37 runs to their overnight total for the loss of their last four wickets against some tight bowling by the visiting attack.

Suraj Randiv (12) became Swann's first victim of the day when he threw away his wicket attempting to take the fight to the spinner soon after he came on, but only succeeded in holing out to a leaping Kevin Pietersen at long-on.

Swann then removed Angelo Mathews for 57 when the Sri Lankan vice captain checked an on-drive which offered England skipper Strauss a routine catch at short mid-wicket.

Tim Bresnan got in on the act when he picked up the wicket of Rangana Herath (two) as the batsman lost patience following a series of blocks and got a faint edge to wicket-keeper Matt Prior attempting a wild slog.

Swann finished off the Sri Lankan innings by bowling Suranga Lakmal for a duck with a perfect off-break that beat the number 11's defensive prod and zipped between his bat and pad, while Dhammika Prasad remained not out on 12.

It was undoubtedly England's day and Cook and Trott will look to lead the way as the tourists attempt to build a commanding first-innings lead.

Sri Lanka lead the two-match series 1-0 after victory in the first Test in Galle and England must win the match if they are to retain their status as the top-ranked side in the game's longest format.

Dan Quarrell - Twitter @Dan_Eurosport / Eurosport

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