Cricket: England triumph in Galle

 

Cricket: England triumph in Galle

England’s brief, entertaining tour of Sri Lanka culminated in Galle on Monday with an “extraordinary day of Test cricket”, said Nick Hoult in The Daily Telegraph. The day in question – the fourth of the Second Test – began with England’s final pair at the crease, and with the visitors still 42 short of Sri Lanka’s first innings total of 381. On a turning pitch, Sri Lanka looked to be “in the ascendancy” – and with every chance of levelling the series. But having swiftly brought England’s first innings to a close, Sri Lanka then “imploded with the bat” – just as they’d done on day one of the opening Test. They were skittled out for a mere 126, with England’s two spinners, Dom Bess and Jack Leach, taking four wickets apiece. Set a “tricky, but not impossible target of 164”, England slumped to 89 for 4 – with their captain, Joe Root, falling for just 11. Yet opener Dom Sibley and wicketkeeper-batsman Jos Buttler came to the rescue with an unbroken stand of 75 to guide England to victory shortly before the close.

With 15 wickets falling across its three sessions, and the result still unclear deep into the afternoon, the day was a reminder of why Test cricket “never ceases to shock and surprise”, said Mike Atherton in The Times. And England will be sure to “take immense confidence from the result”. Nonetheless, as they head to India for a four-match Test series, the need for further improvement is abundantly clear. In Sri Lanka, they were helped not only by “the generosity of the home side’s batsmen”, but also by “some ludicrous field settings” – plus a string of favourable umpiring decisions. In spite of such advantages, all that really separated the teams was the “sublime batting” of Root, who, after scoring a double century in the first Test, hit an equally magisterial 186 in the second. Against India, the “cricketing and financial powerhouse of the game”, such over-reliance on one player is sure to be punished.

But there are signs that others may step up, said Andy Bull in The Guardian. Bess and Leach proved a surprisingly successful spin pairing, sharing 22 wickets across the two Tests. And when they misfired, in the first innings of the second Test, James Anderson was on hand to “pick up the slack”, contributing six wickets. In India, too, England’s attack will be further bolstered by the return of Jofra Archer. The batting remains more of a concern, said Scyld Berry in The Daily Telegraph. Even here, though, there is cause for encouragement: Sibley and Jonny Bairstow both made invaluable contributions at key moments, and Buttler is turning into a dependable number six. England will head to India feeling encouraged.

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