Tuesday 24 April 2012

Mini-session Analysis 3rd test WI Aus Dominica 12

Here is the final mini-session analysis for the 3rd test between West Indies and Australia at Windsor Park, Roseau, Dominica

A mini-session is (normally) half a session, either between the start of the session and the drinks break or the drinks break and the end of the session. Occasionally a long session will have 3 mini-sessions where it will be broken up with 2 drinks breaks.

1-1aAustralia 38/1 off 14West Indies
1-1bAustralia 31/0 off 14Australia
1-2aAustralia 25/1 off 15West Indies
1-2bAustralia 42/1 off 14Australia
1-3aAustralia 28/3 off 16.2West Indies
1-3bAustralia 48/1 off 16.4West Indies
2-1aAustralia 48/1 off 14Australia
2-1bAustralia 68/2 off 10.5Australia
2-2aWest Indies 39/1 off 15draw
2-2bWest Indies 36/2 off 16Australia
2-3aWest Indies 35/3 off 16Australia
2-3bWest Indies 55/2 off 18draw
3-1aWest Indies 36/1 off 16Australia
3-1bWest Indies 17/1 off 6.2West Indies
Australia 18/1 off 4
3-2aAustralia 51/1 off 15Australia
3-2bAustralia 25/0 off 15draw
3-3aAustralia 57/1 off 15Australia
3-3bAustralia 49/3 off 16West Indies
4-1aAustralia 52/3 off 15West Indies
4-1bAustralia 7/1 off 5Australia
West Indies 2/1 off 7
4-2aWest Indies 43/2 off 16.4Australia
4-2bWest Indies 52/0 off 15.2West Indies
4-3aWest Indies 46/0 off 16West Indies
4-3bWest Indies 30/2 off 12.1Australia
5-1aWest Indies 61/3 off 17.1Australia
5-1bWest Indies 60/2 off 12.1West Indies

Australia take the count 13-10

End of match: Australia won, and they won because they played the most good cricket. The turning point was the century from Matthew Wade, who was a deserved man of the match.

The other highlight was Shillingford doing something that none of the big 3 (Ramadhin, Valentine and Gibbs) managed, taking a 10 wicket bag in the West Indies.

Michael Clarke also picked up his second five wicket bag in a test (also his 2nd in first class cricket) and he was really the one that did the damage, removing 4 of the top 6.

West Indies put up a good fight. They are a better team now than they were 2 or 3 years ago. They still have a way to go before they are a top team again though. The New Zealand series will be fascinating. They are probably two very even sides, with quite different skills. With the turn that's been available in this series, Tarun Nethula will probably be confident of getting a test call-up for New Zealand.

End of day 4: And in 6.2 overs everything changes. Two quick wickets and it will take some amazing cricket for West Indies to win it from here. Now might be a good time to start praying for either rain, or some miracle batting from two of Deonarine, Baugh and Sammy.

Final drinks break, day 4: Some more quality test cricket. Australia managed to get 59 runs in the morning, followed by a very disciplined start with the ball. In the first 7 overs there were 4 balls that the batsmen attacked. One was caught, one went for 2, one was played and missed and one got hit straight into Cowan at short leg. It was advantage Australia, until Chanderpaul and Bravo came together. To get a big total, a team normally needs a big partnership. 98 runs so far, and as one of the commentators on DBS radio said "Chanderpaul has a fast 5th gear." Chanderpaul has been magnificent, taking the attack back to the Australians. There is still a long way to go in this test, but if these two can put on another 70 or 80 then it moves back to advantage West Indies.

Australia, however just need one piece of good cricket or good luck and then they are back in control.

End of day 3: A good day of test cricket.

West Indies are in the fortunate position of having a medium pace bowler on a slow pitch with variable bounce. He's bowled 6 overs for 9 runs. Why is Darren Sammy in the team if he's not going to bowl in this sort of situation? I rate him as a player and as a captain, but this is the sort of situation where you would expect him to be a good option.

West Indies are probably already too far behind in this match, but there is always hope of something special happening. If West Indies manage to take the final 4 wickets cheaply (which we've seen is not an easy prospect) then they have a chance at making a (very large) run chase to win the match.

End of day 2: More misery for the West Indies. This match is very quickly becoming one the West Indies will want to forget. The big question is if there is another twist in this match. A big partnership here, followed by some quick wickets and the game is back in the balance, but that is a big ask. West Indies need to produce a lot of good cricket to even this game up.

Tea day 2: The Australian tail wag. This must be something that the West Indians will be getting sick of. Australia's tail has actually been very productive. Over the last 2 years they have scored 38% of their runs after the 5th wicket fell, and in 20% of the matches they have scored more runs with the last 5 partnerships than the first 5.

This series has also had 20% of the innings with the last 5 partnerships score more than the first 5, but they have made an even greater total contribution, with 42% of the runs being contributed after the fall of the 5th wicket.

The big question for the West Indies innings was going to be how they combated Nathan Lyon. In his first 8 overs he has created 9 deliveries that have either taken an edge or caused a false shot. That is not a positive sign for the West Indies. It will be a good challenge for the techniques of the batsmen.

End of day 1: Very much West Indies day today. Shillingford needs one more wicket to be the first player from Dominica to take a 5 wicket bag at home. (Which is not a massive surprise, as he is the only player from Dominica to play a test at home, in only the 2nd test there.)

There is a cliche that Australia have never been very good against orthodox spin. Those sort of statements are often not as true as they seem, because we remember the matches where they have been ripped apart, and forget the times where some of the greats went wicketless against them. However it seems that this Australian team struggeled against Narine, and now are struggling against Deonarine and Shillingford.

I'm not sure who the West Indies spin coach(es) is/are, but they are obviously doing a good job. Recently West Indies have produced Benn, Shillingford, Bishoo, Narine, Cooper, Samuels and Deonarine. That's more quality spinners than either India or Sri Lanka have produced in the same time frame. Australia have been through more spinners, but they have been displaced through lack of form, rather than others stepping up.

Sunday 22 April 2012

India's quick men in the IPL

One of the real bonuses for India with having the IPL is it provides an opportunity for their 2nd tier bowlers and batsmen to test their skills against the best in the world.

With a few notable exceptions, India have not had a reputation for producing quality fast bowling. In some ways the IPL is the perfect vehicle for this to change. With foreign coaches coming in, and high quality seamers in every team there is no excuse for Indian players to not develop their games.

So it's interesting to see who has taken advantage of this. Who is getting better, and who is stagnating? And which bowlers are consistently providing world class performances?

Firstly I looked at the Average and Economy Rate for the last 10 IPL matches for the 11 best performing Indian quick bowlers who had bowled in at least 4 matches this IPL. Here are the numbers:

M Patel11.56.72
R Bhatia20.256.19
A Dinda19.387.64
Zaheer Khan23.757.13
U Yadav25.257.77
L Balaji25.567.8
A Nehra24.678.22
A Singh26.258.55
S Trivedi27.788.15
R Vinnay Kumar34.678.67
P Kumar85.336.92

There's a mixed bag there. Some (like Ashish Nehra and Ashok Dinda) have been good at taking wickets, but have gone for a lot of runs. Others (like Zaheer Khan and particularly Praveen Kumar) have been economical, but have not taken many wickets.

There can be arguments about which is the most important, but ideally a bowler will have a good economy rate and a good average. I feel that a quality player should average under 25 and have an economy rate of under 7.5.

The graph shows 3 players making the grade (Patel, Bhatia, Zaheer), and one just missing out (Dinda). One player actually doesn't even fit on the graph at all: Praveen Kumar. However, he is so far below the economy rate line that he is worth considering.

So once I had isolated the best performers of the Indian quick bowlers, the next question was to look at each of them in detail, to see if they had been making the most of the opportunities that had been afforded to them through the IPL.

Munaf Patel

Munaf Patel has really been the stand out of the Indian quick bowlers. He has taken wickets, but without conceding many runs. And the chart shows that his numbers are getting better and better. It's difficult to change a career economy rate in 4 overs, but almost every game the career rate is decreasing. The rate of improvement suggests that there is still more to come from him also.

Munaf Patel is shaping up as a bowler who could in the future genuinely look the likes of Malinga, Steyn and Broad in the eye. 10 wickets for 89 runs this IPL suggests that he possibly already can.

Zaheer Khan

Zaheer has been a steady performer for a while now. He's become very consistent, partially because batsmen know the danger they are in when he is bowling, and so take less risks. He still takes a wicket roughly every 3 overs.

He does not seem to have got much benefit from the IPL, but he was already a top bowler before the competition really got established.

Rajat Bhatia

This name was new to me. There have not been many KKR matches on at times that are friendly for someone in my time-zone to watch, and his results never really stood out on the score sheets.

We can see that his results (particularly his economy rate) have been steadily improving. Combine this with some useful lower-order hitting in some non-IPL t20 matches (including 107* off 60 for Delhi against Railways), Bhatia looks like a very useful performer.

Unfortunately he's 32, and the Indian selectors are much more likely to look at youth, than try out a player who only offers a few years service. This is a pity, as his numbers are very impressive (if you were to take his figures and Zaheer Khan's figures and compare them, on all but 19 of the 177 days that they have been in season Bhatia has had a better average, and in all but 21 he's had a better economy rate)

Ashok Dinda

Ashok Dinda has done very well this season. He's taken his career average down from the mid 30's to the mid 20's and maintained an economy rate around 7 runs per over.

He's managed to upstage his more illustrious colleagues Ashish Nehra, Angelo Mathews and Wayne Parnell, and in the process really establish himself as a very reliable contributor. He's gone at less than 6 an over so far this season, and if he keeps that up, an international recall may be on the cards.

The graph clearly shows what is sometimes called 2nd year syndrome. A player has a good start, so everyone tries to figure out how to play them. The test of a great player is if they can come back from this and have a great third year. It seems to have taken a little longer than that for Dinda, but this year (his 5th in the IPL) is shaping up to be his best yet.

Praveen Kumar

Despite Praveen Kumar's average skyrocketing during the last 10 or so matches, he has continued to make it difficult for the batsmen to score.

This whole article stemmed out of me researching to decide who to pick in my fantasy team, and despite what the numbers suggest, I actually went for Praveen Kumar. The reason is that it seems unlikely to me that a bowler can keep putting batsmen under pressure, and for that to continue to not result in wickets. Eventually someone is going to target him, and he'll either go for a lot of runs, or pick up their wicket. The interesting thing in this graph is the demonstration of how his game has changed. From a bowler who in one 10 match period averaged 20's but went for close to 8 an over, to a player who now averages a lot higher, but goes for less runs per over.

Sometimes a bowler like that causes so much pressure that a wicket falls at the other end. Peter Siddle is a good example of a bowler who also does that. The bowler at the other end bowls a bad ball and it gets hit down a fielders throat.

If I were an Indian selector, I would certainly take heart from the start of the IPL. Bhatia has to be coming into reckoning, as does Dinda, and once Varun Arron and RP Singh are back from injury, there could be a real surplus of talented quick bowlers for them to chose from. This is not a position that India has historically enjoyed very often.

*all statistics are accurate before the start of play on 21/4/2012

Monday 16 April 2012

Mini-session analysis 2nd test WI Aus Trinidad 12

Here is the final mini-session analysis for the 2nd test between West Indies and Australia at Queens Park in Port of Spain, Trinidad.

A mini-session is (normally) half a session, either between the start of the session and the drinks break or the drinks break and the end of the session. Occasionally a long session will have 3 mini-sessions where it will be broken up with 2 drinks breaks.

1-1aAustralia 53/0 off 14Australia
1-1bAustralia 21/2 off 13West Indies
1-2aAustralia 33/1 off 15West Indies
1-2bAustralia 25/0 off 14draw
1-3aAustralia 46/2 off 17West Indies
1-3bAustralia 30/0 off 17Australia
2-1aAustralia 15/1 off 9.1West Indies
2-1bAustralia 44/0 off 12.5Australia
2-2aAustralia 23/0 off 13draw
2-2bAustralia 21/4 off 10West Indies
2-3aWest Indies 38/3 off 15.1Australia
2-3bWest Indies 11/0 off 10.2Australia
3-1aWest Indies 51/1 off 17.1West Indies
3-1bWest Indies 32/0 off 17.2draw
3-2aWest Indies 56/0 off 14.3West Indies
3-3aWest Indies 42/1 off 12.4West Indies
3-3bWest Indies 22/4 off 16.5Australia
4-1West Indies 5/1 off 0.4West Indies
Australia 40/2 off 20
4-2Australia 33/1 off 10Australia
5-1Australia 50/2 off 25West Indies
5-2aAustralia 37/3 off 6.5Australia
5-2bWest Indies 52/2 off 11West Indies

West Indies win the mini-session count 11-8, but the rain wins the match. I counted 4-1a and 4-1b together as there was only 5 overs between drinks and the rain.

End of day 5:West Indies generally played better cricket in this test, but Australia were probably in the best position, had there been no rain. Australia seem to be quite good at taking wickets in bunches and not losing them in bunches.

Kemar Roach was the stand out performer in the match, taking a 10 wicket haul. He's only the 2nd West Indian to take a 10 wicket bag since Courtney Walsh retired.

The other performance of note was Michael Beer. While match figures of 2/66 are hardly astounding, the fact that he opened the bowling in both innings and looked threatening really gives the Australian selectors something to think about. If he can play a role like this, then he becomes a little more valuable for Australia.

We head now to Dominica, to see if West Indies can square up the series.

End of day 4:And than a good game was ruined. There's still time for a result, but I don't think it's going to happen. It's a pity, because this game was really looking good. Roach continued to be impressive, Ed Cowan continued to average 30 by scoring 30. But the real story was that rain ruined the game.

End of day 3:How quickly a game can change. In the last 17 overs West Indies went from 230/4 to 252/9. At 230/4 They were in the lead. Now they are in a lot of trouble. All 5 wickets went to Nathan Lyon. James Pattinson seems to have been under bowled, There seems little point in bringing in a quick bowler and giving him only 11 overs out of 104.

Tomorrow will be an interesting challenge for the Australian batsmen. They will probably have a lead of about 50 runs. But 3 quick wickets and the game swings back towards West Indies. The problem with that is that if they take too long to score, West Indies should be able to bat out for a draw. There have been very few batsmen dismissed defending in this test, so Australia will want to give themselves at least 4 sessions to bowl West Indies out. Their best chance will be to set West Indies about 280 with 4 sessions remaining. That will almost certainly be too much to score on this pitch, but it will be small enough that they might have a shot at it, allowing Australia a better chance to take the wickets. Unfortunately captains just don't do this in test matches. They would have to take too many risks to score the runs that quickly, and there is no way that Clarke would declare in that situation. The closest declaration that we have seen to this in the last 10 years was probably when Ponting set India 299 off 85 overs in Bangalore, 2008. There are a very good set of articles about declarations (and captaincy in general) on the Declaration Game which is one of the blogs that I read the most.

Tea day 3: Again Chanderpaul is making Australia suffer. They dropped him on 8, and he is adding insult to injury now. Deonarine made a very patient start (3 off 41) before starting to assert himself (34 off the next 60). This partnership has eaten up almost all the advantage that Australia had. Something interesting to look for: If Chanderpaul gets out for 136 in this innings or more, he will have got his career batting average up to 50, that's very impressive, given he averaged 39 after 50 matches.

End of day 2: Michael Beer became the first spin bowler to open the bowling for Australia in the first innings of a test since 1938. Michael Clarke's decision to do this worked wonders. The first session tomorrow wil rest on how Chanderpaul and Bravo settle in. Bravo is due for a big innings, and a lot of the batsmen who have scored big at Queens Park have been ones who move their feet a lot (like Chanderpaul). With the ball turning and bouncing, this could be an awesome couple of days of test cricket.

Tea day 2: West Indies will be happy to have restricted Australia to 311. Over the last 10 years every team that has scored under 350 in the first innings at Queens Park has gone on to lose the match. However it seems to be playing a bit more like the Queens Park of the 90's where low scoring matches were the norm. It is obviously a very difficult pitch to score on. Hussey and Pattinson put on a long partnership but played and missed a lot, and it took them 39 overs to score 89 runs.

End of day 1: West Indies will be happy with the position that they are in. The team that bats first in Barbados normally gets a big score, so restricting Australia to 205 at the end of the first day is quite an effort. Australia will also be reasonably upbeat, knowing that there is potentially a lot of runs in their tail, and they have only lost 5 wickets. It seems an odd decision to have left out Harris, as he bowls very good cutters, and they could be very dangerous on this pitch. It might be the sort of test where Michael Hussey gets to bowl quite a few of his ugly but effective overs also.

Tea day 1: West Indies have put Australia under a lot of scoreboard pressure. Sammy and Shillingford have bowled very tightly. Shillingford seems to have an ability to make the batsmen misjudge the length. This is one of the best weapons that a spin bowler can posses, so he may be better than his mediocre statistics suggest. A low, slow pitch could make for an interesting test match.

Sunday 8 April 2012

Mini-session analysis for 1st Test WI Aus Bridgetown 2012

Here is the final mini-session analysis for the 1st test between West Indies and Australia at the Kensington Oval in Bridgetown.

A mini-session is (normally) half a session, either between the start of the session and the drinks break or the drinks break and the end of the session. Occasionally a long session will have 3 mini-sessions where it will be broken up with 2 drinks breaks.

1-1aWest Indies 32/0 off 15West Indies
1-1bWest Indies 28/1 off 14Australia
1-2aWest Indies 44/0 off 15West Indies
1-2bWest Indies 54/1 off 15West Indies
1-3aWest Indies 21/1 off 14Australia
2-1aWest Indies 36/0 off 13West Indies
2-1bWest Indies 25/1 off 10Australia
2-1cWest Indies 51/1 off 9.3West Indies
2-2aWest Indies 51/1 off 14.3West Indies
2-2bWest Indies 48/1 off 13West Indies
2-3aWest Indies 36/2 off 12Australia
2-3bWest Indies 23/0 off 8Australia
Australia 44/0 off 9.5
3-1aAustralia 21/2 off 10.3West Indies
3-1bAustralia 39/1 off 9.4Australia
3-1cAustralia 29/0 off 12Australia
3-2aAustralia 24/1 off 14West Indies
3-2bAustralia 43/0 off 14Australia
3-3Australia 48/1 off 25draw
4-1aAustralia 25/2 off 11West Indies
4-1bAustralia 39/1 off 9Australia
4-1cAustralia 54/1 off 17Australia
4-2aAustralia 38/0 off 12Australia
4-2bWest Indies 4/3 off 4.2Australia
4-3aWest Indies 60/1 off 21.4West Indies
4-3bWest Indies 7/1 off 12Australia
5-1aWest Indies 43/2 off 13Australia
5-1bWest Indies 34/3 off 15.4Australia
5-2aAustralia 31/1 off 10.2draw
5-2bAustralia 30/0 off 11.4Australia
5-3aAustralia 65/2 off 12Australia
5-3bAustralia 66/4 off 13West Indies

Australia win the match by 3 wickets and the mini-session count 17-12 Ironically West Indies take the last mini-session, despite not winning it by enough to stop Australia winning the match. I put mini-session 3-3a and 3-3b together as there were only 2 overs after drinks before they went off for bad light.

End of match: West Indies competed well for the first 2/3 of the match, but the 4.2 overs of 4-2b cost them in the end. Once Australia got ahead they never relented their lead. The two dropped catches before tea on the last day were also costly.

For Australia this will be a match that will fill them with a lot of confidence. They were under the pump, and fought back to win the match. It was appropriate that Hilfenhaus and Harris were at the crease when the winning runs were scored, as they were the two that really set up this game, first with the bat, then with the ball. They will be concerned at dropping 6 catches though. I'd imagine catching will be worked on at training.

For West Indies there are a lot of questions from this game. Sammy is at times brilliant as a captain, and at other times goes missing. Their batsmen had a great first innings, but that work was undone in the second innings. They created chances to take the game, but never quite took advantage of them.

Before the 1970's West Indies were the team that were noble in defeat. This was one of those situations again. I'm not sure that's a reputation that a team wants to have.

Final drinks break: Could Deonarine be the key that unlocks a victory for West Indies. All they need is 7 good pieces of cricket.

Tea, day 5: Two dropped catches have severely dented West Indies hopes here. If the score was 61/3 at tea, then this game would have a very different feel. As long as Watson is at the crease Australia will back their chances.

End of day 4: Australia lead the count, and probably the match. West Indies still have it in their power to draw or win the match, but it will take a very good day of cricket. A quickfire 50 from Sammy, and the pressure goes back onto the Australians. A conservative captain would certainly go for a draw from West Indies position. An attacking one would try for the win. Which cap is Sammy wearing? A fantastic declaration from Clarke has really set this match up well. I love it when teams declare behind.

Tea day 4: What a turn around. At 285/8 there looked to be only one team in this match. But isn't that the beauty of test cricket. West Indies now have a genuine fight on their hands to save this match. But they still are in a position where one good partnership could set up a win. They have two very good batsmen at the crease, So anything is possible. The last 8 hours of this match could be riveting.

End of day 3: West Indies hold the advantage in the match, but the draw is quickly closing as the favourite.

There is so much to look forward to tomorrow. The prospect of the new ball at the start of the day. The potential of a leg-spinner bowling at the tail. The approaches from the two captains. It's shaping up as a great day of cricket.

End of day 2: West Indies managed to build a great total by batting around Chanderpaul. Due to the time zone I didn't get to see much of Australia's bowling, but David Warner having the best figures probably says a lot. Most of the reports I've read suggest that the Australian team bowled too wide. Bowling a wide channel worked very well against the Indian team, but I can't see a team that Darren Sammy captains being undisciplined enough to find a 6th stump line challenging.

The only question I have is if West Indies have quite enough. I really rate Sammy. I think he is showing the same tendencies that Fleming was at a similar point in his career. However I think that 10 overs was probably too long to leave the Australian openers. An extra 20 runs taking 4 overs, would have meant that The Australian batsmen would have only had to face 6 overs, which would have played with their heads more. David Warner is a fantastic batsman when he knows what his role is. If you start making him double guess then you have a good chance at dismissing him. Likewise it would have meant starting day 3 with a ball that's only 6 overs old.

However this is the first big score any team has put up against Australia in a long time. It will be interesting to see how they respond. 3 times in history Australia have conceded 450 in the first innings and gone on to win the match, so any result from here is not impossible, but If West Indies get it right with the ball this target could be too much for Australia to overcome.

End of Day 1: West indies are marginally ahead here. As usual, the key is Chanderpaul. If they can get him out early, then Australia have a big shot at winning this match. However, if he can provide a platform for the rest of the players to attack, then West Indies could go on to make a good score here.

More than a quarter of the overs on the first day were of spin. How much will West Indies be missing not having any of Samuels, Gayle or Narine now. Scheduling test matches during the IPL is foolish from the WICB and ACB. It puts players in a very difficult position. The boards are unnecessarily testing their allegiance. It would be much more sensible to work the tours round the IPL and make sure they were not putting the players in this position.

Tuesday 3 April 2012

Mini-session analysis for 2nd Test SL Eng Colombo 2012

Here is the final mini-session analysis for the 2nd test between Sri Lanka and England in Colombo.

A mini-session is (normally) half a session, either between the start of the session and the drinks break or the drinks break and the end of the session. Occasionally a long session will have 3 mini-sessions where it will be broken up with 2 drinks breaks.

1-1aSri Lanka 48/3 off 12England
1-1bSri Lanka 34/0 off 15Sri Lanka
1-2aSri Lanka 29/0 off 14.1Sri Lanka
1-2bSri Lanka 44/1 off 13.5Sri Lanka
1-3aSri Lanka 46/0 off 16Sri Lanka
1-3bSri Lanka 37/2 off 19England
2-1aSri Lanka 23/2 off 13.2England
2-1bSri Lanka 14/2 off 7.5England
England 11/0 off 4
2-2aEngland 38/0 off 16England
2-2bEngland 34/0 off 16England
2-3aEngland 39/0 off 14England
2-3bEngland 32/1 off 16draw
3-1aEngland 39/0 off 15England
3-1bEngland 46/1 off 12England
3-2aEngland 77/1 off 17England
3-2bEngland 36/1 off 11England
3-3aEngland 59/2 off 13.5England
3-3bEngland 49/4 off 18.4Sri Lanka
Sri Lanka 4/0 off 1
4-1aSri Lanka 45/1 off 13Sri Lanka
4-1bSri Lanka 35/1 off 13England
4-2aSri Lanka 27/1 off 14England
4-2bSri Lanka 28/1 off 15England
4-3aSri Lanka 41/0 off 16Sri Lanka
4-3bSri Lanka 38/2 off 19England
5-1aSri Lanka 29/2 off 14England
5-1bSri Lanka 31/2 off 13.5England
5-2aEngland 76/2 off 18England
5-2bEngland 21/0 off 1.4England

England win the count 20-7. I changed 2-3b to a draw after chatting on twitter with Bandon Decker

Final wrap-up England win the test deservedly. They dominated the majority of the match and only Jayawardene stood between them and an innings victory.

First drinks break day 5: England have played Sri Lanka out of the match this morning. Swann has bowled a menacing spell, and has really made up for his poor showing in UAE.

I can't remember a test match being won by more than 8 mini-sessions, so Sri Lanka are on the verge of one of the most convincing losses of the year.

End of day 4: With 2 overs to go, that mini-session was looking like a draw. 2 quick wickets and it's a clear advantage to England. However despite the loss of 6 wickets, due to the use of 2 night watchmen, Sri Lanka still have some batting left. Prasana Jayawardene is coming in at number 9; possibly the best number 9 since this match.

If Sri Lanka can put together another 120 runs, they might leave England a chase of about 150 at about 5 an over. That is a mouthwatering prospect.

Post-tea drinks day 4: Jayawardene really flicked the switch there. From 27 off 88 he scored at roughly 75, attacking sensibly. If he stays there and keeps batting like that, Sri Lanka actually have a chance of winning. Both of these are big "ifs" with the new ball almost due.

Tea day 4: England have the foot on the throat now. These two are still capable of saving the match, but that is what Sri Lanka are looking for now, the idea of the win is likely to be out the window. I feel that anytime a team starts looking for a draw before tea on day 4 they are going to lose.

Lunch day 4: This match is actually quite intriguing. It's got that old school feel. What a pity there isn't a third test.

End of day 3: England are well in the lead now. The Sri Lankan bowling was toothless, Herath picked up his third consecutive 6 wicket bag, but it took 31 overs before he got his first one. He completed his 6 by doing some rabbit hunting when the English were trying to increase the scoring rate, but it was hardly incisive bowling.

Sri Lanka still have a chance to win this game. The pitch is breaking up, Sri Lankan batsmen are likely to be better at batting in these conditions than the English, but they are so far behind that it will really take a big day from them.

End of day 2: This test match is like a throw back to the 70's. Scoring at 2.3 an over, openers doggedly refusing to get out, a sub-continental team using their quick bowlers simply to take the shine off the ball. It is all so unusual. There is even the possibility of the match finishing in a draw now. It is all just so unfamiliar.

Lunch day 2: This game is all set up now. It will be interesting to see how England's batsmen cope with the Sri Lankan spinners. The pitch seems to be doing some crazy things occasionally already. Will England be able to cope with it? If they can, then it will be a hard slog for Sri Lanka to win the game.

End of day 1: This test has not advanced as much as we are used to tests advancing recently. Both teams have been patient, and this could be a really interesting match.