If you are a Sri Lanka fan, you might have woken up this morning with high hopes. Your team's openers had made a triple-figure stand. One of the openers had a Lord's century in his sights. Could Sri Lanka bat long enough to bring Rangana Herath's spin into the game, you might have wondered. Might batsmen leave the field with a strut of a peacock this time, instead of eyes of a puppy dog?
Having probably sobbed yourself to sleep in the foetal position after the second day of each of the previous Tests, it is understandable if you became a little excited by an overnight scoreline of 162 for 1. But, listen, you must be realistic. This is a Sri Lanka team in the throes of consecutive periods of transition. They have administrators who travel en masse to Lord's and spend millions on shows and tournament songs, instead of paying domestic cricketers a living wage. So it's silly not to expect frequent collapses, don't you think? It's vital not to have pie-in-the-sky dreams like a first-innings deficit of only two figures.
It has often been said this series that Sri Lanka have not played the swinging or seaming ball particularly well. Well, that's probably fair. In Hamilton last December, it was said that Sri Lanka didn't play the short ball particularly well. Also, in the middle of 2015, they did not cover themselves in glory against legspin (Yasir Shah) or offspin (R Ashwin). And, okay, when the ball was not doing much in the morning session here, they appeared to have substantial issues against non-swinging, non-seaming, non-turning deliveries as well. Five top-order wickets fell for 43 runs.
But think about all the balls Sri Lanka didn't get out to. There appear to be no major weakness to short, wide balls, for example. Long hops have been almost laughably ineffective against them. If England had bowled loopy, knee-high full tosses, all day long, well, those, I'm sure, would have been sublimely defended back down the pitch. It's not all bad.
Having tottered to low first-innings Headingley and Chester-le-Street, it must also be mentioned that at Lord's, there was significant run-scoring to bookend the mass self-immolation in the morning session. Kaushal Silva and Dimuth Karunaratne had half-centuries. Kusal Perera and Herath - who has outscored two top-order team-mates this series - put on a heartening 71 together.
At Lord's Sri Lanka scored more than England's highest first-innings scorer, for once. They didn't fall over in the street and drown in a puddle like total idiots. They walked all the way up to the top of the bridge and only then, plunged off it. Returning this team to competitiveness is a long process, by many accounts. Here was progress of the strictly slow-and-drawn-out variety.
And fine, it wasn't 450-wicket swear word maestro James Anderson taking the wickets this time. It was a cherub-faced Chris Woakes and topple-heavy Steven Finn bowling themselves into form. But it's not always the highly-rated spearheads that get wickets you know. Supporting bowlers can be quite skilled too. Just look through the list of bowlers who have delivered incisive spells at Sri Lanka recently. Neil Wagner is not that bad a bowler. Amit Mishra can be a handful. Stuart Binny as well. And so, okay, Kraigg Brathwaite only had three first-class wickets before he took 6 for 29 at the P Sara in October, but he's underrated, surely? Either that or it was a very dusty pitch.
In the field, Sri Lanka missed three clear catches in the evening. Wicketkeeper Dinesh Chandimal didn't even attempt to pouch the easiest of the lot. Perhaps there is no real improvement in that department per se, but maybe Sri Lanka are learning to devise strategies that account for the drops. Like the Pakistan quicks of yore, Nuwan Pradeep went at the stumps to get his wickets. When he was on a hat-trick in dim light, and in the middle of one of the spells of his life, his captain didn't bother to give him a third slip. Angelo Mathews is often accused of being over-conservative, but you can see his reasoning here, can't you? There is no point to non-catching catching men.
Sri Lanka were still hanging in the match by a thread as the third day wound to a close. This was thanks largely to the efforts of their depleted attack. At Headingley they had already been pummeled by this stage. At Chester-le-Street they were fighting to make England bat again. Yes, sure, their 288 all out is by a distance the lowest completed first-class total at Lord's this year, but in there were several patches of competence, am I right?
Please…. am I right?