For long periods yesterday, England’s supporters, massed high on the ramparts of the old Dutch fort and searching desperately for the trade winds to cool them down, must have thought they were watching history in the making. But if these hopes were a long time in gestation, built up gradually over the first three hours of the day, then the disappointment, such an unexpected feature of the winter, came quickly enough.
Whilst Jonathan Trott and Matt Prior were combining in a partnership of 81 either side of lunch, the winning target of 340 seemed well within reach. If conditions in this furnace can ever be described as comfortable for batting, then they were as comfortable as at any time in the match: the ball had gone soft, the pitch had gone to sleep and Sri Lanka, judging from the fields set by Mahela Jayawardena, had run out of ideas.
In the ten overs after lunch, as Sri Lanka waited for the new ball to become available, Trott and Prior picked off twenty-six untroubled runs, not a huge number, for sure, but worrying for Sri Lanka given the ease with which they came. And when the first six overs with that new ball brought 30 more runs, England moved to favouritism for the first time…….