England’s surprisingly easy passage to drawing the 2nd test must give some heart to the team looking to come back from the disappointment of the first. But for the freak dismissal of Michael Vaughan and a couple of “unfortunate” decisions to remove Kevin Pieteresen and Ali Cook, England could have been looking at a formidable first innings score of their own. However, on a slow and dead pitch, only Murali was the only bowler likely to cause major problems and England saw him off with relative ease.
The pitch at Galle will be an unknown quantity. This is the first game at the ground since the Tsunami and its behaviour will be interesting to see. England need to win to square the series, in the same situation as in India two years ago, where Shaun Udal surprised everyone and gave Andrew Flintoff his greatest moment as England captain.
There is a case for looking at the second spinner in the party this time round too. Monty Panesar has had comfortably his most frustrating series in his short England career and is struggling to gain control over the batsmen let alone look threatening. Graeme Swann should during the ODIs that he is an attacking spin bowler and in a game where England need a positive result, he may be a short term solution. He would also bolster the batting, which could be important as I would also drop Stuart Broad from the team that played the 2nd test if Matthew Hoggard is fit to return.
The other change I would make is to replace Ravi Bopara with Owais Shah. I initially supported the inclusion of Bopara as I felt his bowling would be a crucial extra dimension. However, Vaughan has been so reluctant to bowl him that his inclusion over Shah does not seem warranted, as Shah is clearly the superior batsman. However, Bopara has done enough to suggest that there is a big talent there, and Paul Collingwood should be beginning to feel under some pressure for his place in the side.
My team for the 3rd test