No plain sailing
Seeds of doubt may creep into England's heads, says Cork
Last Updated: April 6, 2012 3:35pm
Mathews: Can he give England something to think about?
Dominic Cork expects England to win the second Test in Colombo - but feels Sri Lanka can still make the visitors sweat.
"If Sri Lanka get around 100 ahead England may just get a little nervous, especially with what happened in the UAE."
Dominic Cork Quotes of the week
Two late wickets from Graeme Swann saw Sri Lanka close day four on 218-6 and with a lead of 33 over Andrew Strauss' charges.
Cork believes Swann's strikes will have given England a real boon but says that, after their batting woes in this winter's series with Pakistan, the Three Lions may waver if they have to amass over 100 in their second innings.
"England have fought hard here and (Swann's wickets) will have sent them into the dressing room ready to hit Sri Lank hard tomorrow," the former fast bowler told Sky Sports. "And if they get Mahela Jayawardene (55 not out) early, the game will be over by lunch.
"However if Sri Lanka get around 100 ahead England may just get a little nervous, especially with what happened in the UAE.
"Angelo Mathews (3 not out) could come out and play an innings like we saw from Kevin Pietersen, and it could put little seeds of doubt in England's head."
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Bob Willis, however, expects the deadly accuracy of England's bowling lynchpins, Swann and James Anderson, to be too much for the remaining Sri Lanka batsmen and the visitors to easily win the contest - retaining their status as the number one Test side on the planet in the process.
"Strauss needs to bowl his best two bowlers," said Willis, who claimed 325 wickets in his 90 Test appearances for England. "Dip Jimmy (Anderson) in the cold bath, wind him up and send him out, with Swann at the other end!
"I think it will be very difficult for Mathews to be aggressive against those two because they don't bowl too many bad balls. Realistically Sri Lanka should be dead and buried and it will take a high-quality effort for them to get out of this hole."
Sri Lanka's batting effort, just like in their opening innings, was held together by Jayawardene and Thilan Samaraweera (47).
Cork believes Jayawardene - who will be looking to snare his third century of the series tomorrow - is revelling in the dual roles of captain and strokemaker, while Willis dished out praise to Sri Lanka's "forgotten man", Samaraweera.
"He is a superb act," Cork said of Jawawardene, who averages 50.84 in the five day game. "Mentally he must be so strong and he is technically very good on the eye.
"He seems to have changed as an individual and he seems to be a bit more relaxed as captain now. It seems to be helping him because England just can't get him out."
Of Samaweera, who averages over 53 in Tests, Willis added: "He is an underestimated player; Tillakaratne Dilshan, Kumar Sangakkara and Jayawardene always get a mention and sometimes he is the forgotten man.
"He is a highly accomplished player and doesn't take many risks, even though he tends to score at a brisker rate than Jayawardene. He is a very competent Test match performer."