Prior to this match there was a bit of discussion as to whether it was best to bat first or second. It tends to be a brave move to insert the opposition upon winning the toss, but The Sinhalese Sports Club Ground in Columbo has something of a reputation for flattening out after early life.
Perhaps the best example of this was August 2006. South Africa won the toss and opted to bat. They were bundled out for 169, reduced Sri Lanka to 14-2 and then watched Mahela Jayawardene and Kumar Sangakkara put on the highest first-class partnership of all time, never mind just in Tests. Sangakkara hit a mere 287, Jayawardene a fairly robust 374.
England were lucky enough to get Sangakkara for one yesterday, but Mahela Jayawardene’s still at the crease. This guy doesn’t have the first clue as to how to get out at this ground. It’s totally alien to him. This was his eighth Test hundred here.
We tend to groan when we hear that a team’s decided whether to bat or bowl based on past matches at a ground. It’s usually something like: ‘Historically, 25 runs more are scored batting first,’ or something similarly inconsequential. We always feel like this gets the players in the wrong frame of mind.
If you’re running into bowl, thinking ‘this is a 600 pitch’, you might not be quite so enthusiastic as normal. Similarly, if a pitch has a reputation for being difficult to bat on on the last day, bowlers will be fighting for the ball and giving it their all.
Sometimes you need to make your own history.
Having said that, we’d forgive anyone for feeling a little glum at the prospect of bowling at Mahela Jayawardene on the third day at The Sinhalese Sports Club Ground.
Sri Lanka v England, second Test at Columbo – day three
England 351 all out (Michael Vaughan 87, Alastair Cook 81, Matt Prior 79, Muttiah Muralitharan 5-116, Lasith Malinga 3-78)
Sri Lanka 379-4 (Mahela Jayawardene 167 not out, Michael Vandort 138, Ryan Sidebottom 3-72)