Sri Lanka have showcased little professionalism during the third Test against England and the comedy of errors continued yesterday as the hosts slipped toward a heavy defeat. Sri Lanka were struggling at 54 for four at stumps on day three chasing an improbable target of 327 at the SSC.
With the series already lost following the embarrassing defeats in Galle and Pallekele, Sri Lanka were expected to play for pride and avoid a 3-0 drubbing. But they have played with little enthusiasm and showcased no professionalism at all.
During the 17 overs that were bowled yesterday in Sri Lanka’s second innings, England picked up four wickets and are now six wickets away from a historic whitewash.
Sri Lanka have never suffered a 3-0 whitewash even in England and at home only two others teams have handed them 3-0 drubbings in Test cricket – Ricky Ponting’s Australians in 2004 and Virat Kohli’s Indian side in 2017.
The hosts did have an opportunity to bat England out of the game on day two when they were 173 for one with four overs to go for tea. But the dismissal of Dhananjaya de Silva (73) triggered a sensational collapse as they lost the last nine wickets for 67 runs to be bowled out for 240 and concede a first innings lead of 96.
Yesterday morning they bounced back claiming four wickets for 39 runs and with the lead still less than 140, they could have made a game out of it. But it was Lakshan Sandakan’s turn to join the comedy as he dismissed Ben Stokes twice off no balls for over stepping.
Throughout the series, Sri Lanka’s spinners – Dilruwan Peres being the chief culprit – had come so close to overstepping the line. Perera had almost cost Sri Lanka a Test match in Abu Dhabi last year but the Sri Lankans have not learned their lessons and their misery seems to continue.
Clearly the inability to rectify small mistakes show lack of professionalism.
Stokes added 89 runs for the fifth wicket with Jos Buttler as Sri Lanka let the opposition off the hook again.
Wicketkeeper batsman Ben Foakes has been the find of the series for England and he was 36 not out as England posted 230 all out in their second essay. On his debut series, Foakes scored 277 runs, at an average of 69. That’s the most runs scored by a batsman in the series from either side. Into the bargain, Foakes contributed for ten dismissals, two more than his counterpart Niroshan Dickwella.
Dickwella will come under tremendous pressure having managed just 109 runs in six innings at 21 without any fifties.
The least said about Sri Lanka’s batting the better it is.
Moeen Ali, who shared the new ball with Stuart Broad, accounted for both openers – Dimuth Karunaratne and Danushka Gunathilaka while Jack Leach accounted for Dhananjaya de Silva in the third delivery he bowled in the innings.
Angelo Mathews has become a Ben Stokes bunny. A short ball by Stokes had dismissed him in the first innings and yet again Stokes dismissed Mathews attempting a half-hearted pull shot. Stuart Broad ran in from short mid-wicket to complete a diving catch.
To add insult to injury, four deliveries after Mathews was dismissed the umpires called off play