|Scorecard:||England v Sri Lanka|
|Event:||Sri Lanka in Ireland and England 2014|
DateLine: 21st June 2014
By Andy Jalil In association with INVESTEC
Leeds Sam Robson, Englands Australian born opening batsman, hit a superb maiden Test century in only his second Test and led England to end the second days play on 320 for six, a lead of 63. Robson, showing great maturity and application in scoring 127 had taken his side to 278 for two when his excellent innings, spanning six-and-a-quarter hours, was finally ended. Late in the day Sri Lanka hit back to claim three wickets in a space of two runs.
The bit of joy that Sri Lanka had was soon after start of play and then towards the end of the day most of which was dominated by Robson and Gary Balance who put on 142 and again Robson and Ian Bell who added 87.
Dhamika Prasad in his second over of the morning had Alastair Cook held low at first slip. The dismissal extended the England captains innings to 23 since his last hundred as he continues to struggle for form. It was a wicket maiden over after his first had gone for 10 with Robson taking two fours from a cut and a glance.
Cook had added just three to his overnight score of 14 and he had struggled for an hour and a half from the previous evening. With England on 49 for one, Robson and Ballance then began to put together a good partnership. The rookies, with just five Tests between them showed maturity in their approach, batting with patience as well as taking every opportunity to score.
Robson, who was 21 overnight more than doubled his score when he hit two fours off consecutive balls from Pradeep, driving the first square followed by a classic cover drive. Another four off the same bowler which was steered past gully to third man took him to his maiden Test 50 from 102 balls.
Pradeep made way for the left arm spinner Rangana Herath and Robson went down the pitch to hit to wide mid-wicket. At lunch England were 106 for one. Both batsmen were particularly cautious just before and after lunch until Balance cut Shaminda Eranga for the first boundary in ten overs which took him to 39. When Pradeep returned for a new spell he conceded 12 in the over with Ballance cutting him twice for four to bring up his half century from 116 balls.
Robson hit two fours off consecutive balls, going down the pitch to hit the second over the bowlers head to get into the seventies. Sri Lanka missed an opportunity to dismiss Ballance on 61 when Kaushal Silva at short square leg dropped a sharp chance. The batsman progressed to 71, sweeping Herath for the last of his eighth four and shortly before tea his three-and-a-half-hour innings of 74 came to an end with Angelo Matthews moving a ball away from the left hander and taking an edge.
Robson, who was on 87 at Ballances dismissal steered Mathews to third man to enter the nineties and a lovely drive to the mid-off boundary took him to 97. At tea he was on 98 and had played five successive dot balls rather than take risky runs. It showed his fine temperament when so close to his maiden Test hundred but he still waited for the right ball to score of.
Finally, ten minutes into the final session and facing his 220th ball, he drove Prasad to deep cover and ran two to get to the memorable milestone. Having reached three figures he played some aggressive shots including the only six of his knock. His innings ended with Pradeep moving the second new ball just enough to take the outside for a catch behind.
Bell was on 45 at the fall of his partners wicket. After playing a maiden over from Eranga he square drove Pradeep for four and then a single brought him his 41st Test half century in his hundredth Test. Sri Lanka then claimed two wickets in a space of five balls. Bell on 64 and Joe Root on 13, fell to catches behind the stumps on 311 and then Moeen Ali fell on 313.
(Article: The opinions expressed in this article are those of the author only.
Copyright © 2014 Andy Jalil)
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