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Plunkett and Broad rattle through Sri Lanka

The Report by David Hopps
June 20, 2014 « Hodgson given FA backing | WILL TEST Rashid's burst takes Yorkshire top »

England 36 for 0 (Robson 21*, Cook 14*) trail Sri Lanka 257 (Sangakkara 79, Chandimal 45, Plunkett 5-64, Broad 3-46) by 221 runs
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Stuart Broad turned on the style near the end of the day © Getty Images
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Stuart Broad became the first England bowler to take two hat-tricks in Test cricket, and only the fourth bowler of all time, as England tore through Sri Lanka's lower order on the opening day of the Headingley Test.

It was a day of thrust and counter thrust, a far cry from the footslogging atmosphere of the opening Test at Lord's and left England with a definite advantage in a Test that will decide the outcome of the series.

Broad had to share the acclaim with the local favourite, Yorkshire's Liam Plunkett, who took the final wicket of Nuwan Pradeep, one of life's No. 11s, to finish with 5 for 64, his best figures in Tests, and fully justify his recall to Test cricket with a chest-thrusting and, at times, hostile display.

Broad removed Kumar Sangakkara, the mainstay of Sri Lanka's innings, for 79, well caught by Ian Bell at gully, with the last ball of an over, and Sri Lanka's innings immediately crumbled: four wickets lost in nine balls. Plunkett's bouncer accounted for Dhammika Prasad, second ball for nought, before Broad added Dinesh Chandimal at first slip and Shaminda Eranga, a catch to the keeper, with the first two deliveries of his following over.

The sequence so confused Broad - and many others alongside him - that he was initially oblivious to the hat-trick. "I'd absolutely no idea," he admitted. It was a momentous moment all the same, taking him alongside Australia's legspinner Jimmy Matthews (who did it twice in the same match), his fellow Australian Hugh Trumble and Wasim Akram of Pakistan as the only players to achieve the feat twice. Broad's previous success came against India at Trent Bridge in 2011.

It was not all perfect by England, though. Sangakkara is on what many presume to be his farewell tour of England, but he must have been flattered to see how many gifts were bestowed open him. They treated him to a missed run out, a non-appeal when he nicked one and two catching blunders to enable him to blunt their progress. He played and missed a bit, too, but otherwise battled to bat in considered fashion.

England should have run him out before he had scored. Sangakkara's appetite for a single to mid-on from the fourth ball he received was misconceived, Broad's low throw was calm enough to give Matt Prior time to hurtle up to the stumps, but the ball bounced awkwardly in front of him and he was unable to complete the run out.

His second let-off, in the last over before lunch, was belatedly revealed on Sky TV nearly an hour later. England stifled appeals for a catch at the wicket as Sangakkara's bat also hit the ground, pushing at Plunkett, but Hot Spot revealed the presence of a thin edge.

Sangakkara's third moment of fortune, on 27, surprised him so much that he was already four paces to the pavilion. Plunkett, the bowler, was celebrating, the crowd was roaring its approval and England's slips were setting off in unison towards the bowler when everybody realised that the ball had struck Prior on the chest and, oblivious to the fact that it was nestling on his gloves, he had thrown his hands apart in confusion and allowed it to drop to the floor.

Plunkett, not to be denied, struck back with two wickets in successive balls. Mahela Jayawardene, on the drive, was athletically picked up, one handed, by Chris Jordan at second slip and Lahiru Thirimanne fell first ball, his poor tour extended by a hostile delivery which he could only fend to Sam Robson at short leg. Plunkett, chest expanding by the over, was run for eight overs by Alastair Cook without further success - as surprising as had been James Anderson's 10 overs with the new ball in the morning.

England added Angelo Mathews at third slip, a second wicket for Anderson. But by tea, Sangakarra, given another life on 58 when Moeen Ali dropped a chance high to his right at point, had supplanted Jayawardene as Sri Lanka's leading Test run maker.

Cook protested pre-match that something should be done about Shane Warne, a grouse that suggested that he was a captain feeling in need of friends. Instead, he had to contend with Headingley, that most capricious of allies, a ground liable to indicate one thing and do quite another. He took a deep breath and put Sri Lanka in to bat. It was not a simple choice, but it turned out well as Sri Lanka's resilience in their first Test in Leeds was lacking.

In the first hour, Headingley, although clothed by light cloud, refused to play ball. Few deliveries swung and Sri Lanka's openers left the ball with conviction. But as the temperatures rose, the ball began to do a bit. The pitch was quicker than Lord's, although marginally at first, and the forecast suggested that England could anticipate good batting conditions on the morrow.

Cook was grateful to survive to see the second morning after TV replays ruled out an edge to first slip, where Sangakkara admitted from the outset that he was uncertain whether the ball had carried.

If Cook was under pressure, so was Headingley. Yorkshire, under good direction these days, had put in considerable effort to win hearts and minds among a notoriously hard-to-please public, and although the overall crowd figure will eventually exceed that for the previous Test against New Zealand, the gaps on the terraces did not provide overwhelming evidence for the love of Test cricket routinely professed by Yorkshire folk wherever in the world they might be.

England had marked Ian Bell's 100th Test by presenting him with a silver cap and by a guard of honour from the players as he took the field. Cook voiced the opinion that he was "one of the best, if not the best" batsmen he had ever played with. For Sri Lanka, there was sadness: players wore black armbands after hearing of the death of their baggage man, PD Nimal, in a motorcycle accident.

Not only Sangakkara had a reprieve. Broad had an opportunity to strike first for England, only for his enthusiasm for a review (low key by his own standards) to be overruled when an lbw against Kaushal Silva, on 10, was turned down. Signals from the England dressing room that the review would have been out brought a Draco Malfoy scowl from Broad: England's captain and wicketkeeper were in no rush to make eye contact. Silva did not make good his escape, a thin edge against Anderson providing a simple catch for Prior.

Plunkett struck with his second ball: a big inswinger, delivered from wide of the crease, around the wicket, which left Dimuth Karunaratne's stumps splayed. Plunkett might have had a second wicket in the last over before lunch when Jayawardene pulled a short one but a difficult chance escaped Bell's diving effort at leg slip. He was not to denied his prize, though, and it was not long before sporadic chants of York-shire began to fill the ground.

David Hopps is the UK editor of ESPNcricinfo

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