Sri Lanka, an alien at home | Sunday Observer

Sri Lanka, an alien at home

Joe Root leads his triumphant England team out of the SSC ground in Colombo (AFP)
Joe Root leads his triumphant England team out of the SSC ground in Colombo (AFP)

England’s batsmen played streets-ahead cricket in Sri Lanka as they put the home team’s batters out of place during their concluded series where they won all three matches on slow turning territory that is no longer a ghost to the Englishmen.

While England had four century-makers, Sri Lanka had none with the highest score being 88 made by Angelo Mathews who was also a flop with the bat in the last Test unable to show the kind of commitment he displayed on the field when he took a stunning running catch at long-off to dismiss last man Jack Leach.

But where England’s batsmen, who were all playing for the first time in the island, scored heavily was in their ability to clobber as many as 27 sixes while Sri Lanka’s batsmen were more like aliens on home pitches able to hit a mere seven.

The irony was that only one Sri Lankan player Dimuth Karunaratne finished with a place in the top five batting rankings whereas England had four batsmen in the top five with Ben Foakes, Jos Buttler, Keaton Jennings and Joe Root grabbing the honours as all four made centuries.

What some experts seem to have forgotten is the fact that Sri Lanka lost the series with the first Test itself in Galle where England had the luxury of declaring their second innings at 322 for 6 setting Sri Lanka a 462 target.

Where England scored most in the Galle Test was that their tail-end batsmen were able to rattle up 90 runs in the first innings while in contrast Sri Lanka was able to produce a mere 32 runs through its tail in the first innings.

The win was just the kind of start that any team would have wanted and with lower order batsman Ben Foakes scoring 107 in his first or maiden Test, it gave England a huge confidence booster after the side had been 103 for 5 in the first innings at one stage.

Overall Sri Lanka’s home-savoured desire to play the three Test matches on favourable spinning pitches back-fired miserably as the England slow-bowling trio of Jack Leach, Moeen Ali and Adil Rashid accounted for 48 of the 60 wickets in comparison to 41 taken by the host team’s Dilruwan Perera, Akila Dhananjaya and Malinda Pushpakumara in two or more matches.

Leach was the least of all the spinners as he walked into the Sri Lanka series with just two scalps from one previous Test which was against New Zealand and bowed out with a harvest of 18 wickets.