England vs. Sri Lanka Test: What Hope for a Positive Result at Lord's?

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England vs. Sri Lanka Test: What Hope for a Positive Result at Lord's?
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Recent history suggested that there would be a positive result in the first Test between England and Sri Lanka at Lord's. Just one of the past 11 Test matches at headquarters has ended in a draw. That sole stalemate was a high-scoring affair against Sri Lanka in 2009.

Given the action from the opening two days, a repeat seems likely. So what hope is there for a positive result come Monday evening?

 

Quick Scoring

The rapid scoring rate from both sides means that a decisive outcome, though unlikely, is still possible. Joe Root's well-paced double century and some lusty lower-order biffing helped England score at a very decent lick.

Given the placid nature of the pitch on Day 2, it looks like Alastair Cook's side will need plenty of time to dismiss the visitors once let alone twice. Scoring their runs at 4.4 runs per over gives them that opportunity.

A 140 for one represents a solid Sri Lankan response in the face of England's massive 575 for nine declared. Kaushal Silva and Kumar Sangakkara looked comfortable for most of the evening session, but there were glimmers of hope for England.

 

Reverse Swing

With the ball 40-overs old, there were signs of reverse swing from both Broad and Anderson. Liam Plunkett, though, sometimes a little wayward, bowled with decent pace, and Chris Jordan looked at home in the Test arena as he has in the one-day game. The ball passed the outside of the bat often enough to give the seamers hope.

The Lord's pitch is undoubtedly flat, what Steve Harmison would describe as a “chief executive's pitch.” The odd delivery has kept low, though, and given the extra height and pace of the England attack, that could cause problems as the game goes on.

A top-class spinner would of course help England's prospects for victory. It's on pitches like this that Alastair Cook must wish he could still toss the ball Graeme Swann's way. In his absence, Moeen Ali took over the spinning duties. He bowled tidily enough without ever truly threatening. Will he unleash the doosra?

 

Long Tail

The Sri Lankan team includes two genuine greats in Sangakkara and Mahela Jayawardene. There are question marks about the rest of the batting line-up though. Lahiru Thirimanne filled his boots with a century in the warm up game against Northamptonshire but remains unproven at Test level. The tail may not be in the Giddins, Tufnell, Mullally class, but it isn't one of world cricket's strongest either.

There has been much talk in recent days about England's brand of cricket. Lacking the extreme pace of a Mitchell Johnson or mystery spin, England will have to take the attritional route if they're to grind out a victory.

The draw is the odds-on favourite, but the home side aren't without hope heading into Day 3.

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