Cricket

England look to seal SL deal

2014-06-19 09:00
Alastair Cook (AFP)

Leeds - England will hope to go one wicket better when they face Sri Lanka in the second and final Test of their series at Headingley on Friday.

Alastair Cook's new-look side were denied victory in the first Test at Lord's on Monday after Sri Lanka No 11 Nuwan Pradeep got through the final five balls of the match from Stuart Broad to ensure a draw for the tourists, who were nine wickets down.

There were some encouraging signs for an England side minus Kevin Pietersen, their all-time leading run-scorer across all formats, who was ditched from the national set-up following a 5-0 Ashes thrashing in Australia.

Joe Root scored 200 not out in the first innings while Gary Ballance's maiden Test century in the second got England, without former number three Jonathan Trott as he continues his comeback from a "stress-related illness", out of trouble on the fourth day.

Both Yorkshire batsmen will be on their home ground on Friday.

England fielded three debutants at Lord's, with all-rounder Chris Jordan the most impressive.

Australia-born opener Sam Robson was twice out cheaply while Moeen Ali, brought in following the retirement of off-spinner Graeme Swann, didn't take a wicket at Lord's on Monday's final day at Lord's - not that surprising given he is primarily a batsman.

England do have an experienced spinner to call upon in Monty Panesar but the left-armer's somewhat chaotic personal life appears to be counting against him.

"Monty is the most experienced Test match bowler but through other issues he has made it very difficult to look at him at the moment as an option," said England coach Peter Moores.

But Tests at Headingley, where the ball swings if conditions are overcast, are usually decided by the faster bowlers.

Only one of the last 14 Tests at Yorkshire's headquarters has ended in a draw and England now know that, if they can get past Sri Lanka batting greats Kumar Sangakkara and Mahela Jayawardene, they can spark a collapse.

"I thought we batted poorly after tea (on Monday) especially," said Sri Lanka captain Angelo Mathews, who scored a first-innings hundred at Lord's.

"Their bowlers came in really hard, and asked questions of us, but we couldn't really handle it," the all-rounder added in a frank omission.

Someone who will hope to exploit that frailty at Headingley is England paceman Liam Plunkett, whose career has been rejuvenated since he moved to Yorkshire from Durham in 2012.

But Plunkett said it hadn't been so much the advice of White Rose coach Jason Gillespie, the former Australia seamer, that got him back into the England side at Lord's seven years after he played his last Test as a few well chosen words from forthright Yorkshire and England batting great Geoffrey Boycott.

"I met him when I first signed and he just said 'don't think, just bowl' and walked off," Plunkett said.

"That's all he said to me and I haven't spoken to him since, but it makes sense."

Meanwhile England will hope Cook and Ian Bell, in line to play his 100th Test, make big scores in Leeds.

Left-handed opener Cook has now gone 22 innings since compiling the last of his England record 25 hundreds - 130 against New Zealand at Headingley in May last year.

"Leading from the front as a captain, you want to score runs - that's your job as a batter," Cook said.

England are set to field the same XI but Sri Lanka are o due to make at least one change, with Dinesh Chadimal poised replace wicketkeeper Prasanna Jayawardene, who suffered a broken finger at Lord's.

And with Suranga Lakmal still sidelined by a hamstring tear, experienced but not especially penetrative seamer Nuwan Kulasekara could be dropped in favour of the quicker Dhammika Prasad, who bowled well in the tour match against Northamptonshire.

A slow over-rate hurt England at Lord's and Moores said: "We have already started to address that...We don't want to lose overs at all, because it can be costly."

Read more on:    england  |  alastair cook  |  cricket
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