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Lanka show fight to stay in lord's Test

LONDON, May 13, Although the odds would still favour England, Sri Lanka at least showed fight to remain in the contest after being asked to follow-on, ending the third day on 183 for three wickets in the first cricket Test played at Lord's here today.

Carrying the fight to the Englishman was Kumar Sangakkara and Upul Tharanga who hit a fifty apiece before being dismissed. At stumps captain Mahela Jayawardene who made 61 in the first innings was unbeaten on 35 with nightwatchman Farveez Maharoof (5).

Sri Lanka are not yet out of the woods. They still trail England by 176 runs to make them bat again and there remains two days in the Test. Sri Lanka made 192 in the first innings in reply to England's 551-6.

Today the Lankan batting showed much discipline and England's bowlers were made to alter their line of attack for success. They managed to extract three batsmen in the second innings Jehan Mubarak for six when he played on to Hoggard, Tharanga for 52 (7 fours) and Sangakkara for 65 (6 fours), both falling to left-arm spinner Monty Panesar. The wicket of Sangakkara closer to stumps was a big blow for Sri Lanka for he had batted so solidly for the 225 minutes he was at the wicket and provided a sense of security to the innings as long as he was out there.

Tharanga and Sangakkara added 109 for the second wicket after the early loss of Mubarak at 10. The manner in which Sangakkara batted today proved beyond doubt that he would have to seriously consider batting at no. 3 if he has been on the field for a lengthy period of time. Sangakkara's failure in the first innings when he was dismissed for 21 after keeping wickets during the England innings for five sessions could easily be put down to mental tiredness. His dismissal when he and his captain Jayawardene were batting so well triggered a collapse that saw four wickets crash for four runs in 21 balls.

Today he came out to bat fresh and one could see the marked difference in his batting. It is something the team management will have to seriously consider if they want to get the best out of him as a batsman.

Much focus has been laid on Sri Lanka's poor batting performances without paying much attention to how good the opposition's bowling is.

England bowlers excel

On the same pitch that England plundered their highest total against Sri Lanka - 551-6, it became a totally different ball game when the England fast bowlers took the ball into their hands.

The amount of sharp swing and movement they extracted out of it only went to show that Sri Lanka's bowling was nowhere near their class. Apart from Muralitharan's spin the three seamers were so ordinary and lacked in pace they hardly aroused any doubts in the batsmen's mind. So laying the blame totally on the Lankan batsmen is unfair. Even if Sri Lanka had won the toss and batted first one cannot think of them raking up a big total.

The England fast bowlers are masters in their own conditions and the Duke ball they use for the home Tests retain the shine for a longer period than the Kookaburra used by other countries including Sri Lanka which makes it swing for a longer period of time.

Vaas' lack of success in English conditions is baffling. He did not bowl well at all in the England first innings.

Coming back to Test cricket after a six-month lay-off from rest and then a side strain has had its effects on his 32-year-old body. But that apart his lack of success in England for a bowler who has beautiful control of swing and seam could only be attributed to his lack of pace which has reduced over the years that the batsmen have ample time to make a judgement on whether to play or leave it.

Maharoof and Kulasekera also lacked in pace to hurry the English batsmen into committing a false stroke.

Lankans each ability

One of the main faults with Sri Lankan bowlers is that they lack the ability to bowl six balls in one spot. Unless they get that right they are bound to concede a lot of runs as they did in the England innings.

The England bowlers on the other hand, were quick, sharp and accurate giving nothing away, committing the batsmen to play at each and every delivery which gave them a better chance of getting a wicket. The Sri Lankan batsmen not renowned for their patience fell easy pray.

Another shortcoming of the batsmen was the lack of feet movement to encounter the swing, which left them easy victims for an outside edge to the eagerly awaiting slips cordon.

The only batsman to display patience and application was the captain Mahela Jayawardene who batted for 168 minutes to top score with 61 inclusive of nine fours. Sri Lanka did well from their hopeless position overnight of 91-6 to add a further 101 runs for their last four wickets through useful contributions from Maharoof (22), Vaas (31) and Kulasekera (29).

Thanks to the efforts of the tail Sri Lanka was able to avoid being dismissed for their lowest ever score in England - 162.

Hoggard who began the Sri Lankan collapse in the second afternoon with two early wickets finished as the best England bowler with four wickets, which included his 200th in Test cricket. It made him the tenth England bowler to get to that mark and Maharoof whom he caught and bowled was his victim.

Ranatunga objects to Sanath's recall The arrival of opener Sanath Jayasuriya from retirement in England today to reinforce the team has not met with the approval of his former captain Arjuna Ranatunga. He told the 'Daily Express': If I was still the captain and I had heard they had brought a player out of retirement I would have gone home."

551-6 dec,
(K. Pieterson 158, M Trescothick 106, A Cook 89, 
P Collingwood 57; M Muralitharan 3-158)
SRI LANKA 1ST INNINGS (overnight: 91-6)
J. Mubarak lbw b Hoggard	 	 0
U. Tharanga lbw b Hoggard		10
K. Sangakkara c Trescothick b Mahmood	21
M. Jayawardene c Jones b Flintoff	61
T. Samaraweera lbw b Mahmood		 0
T. Dilshan run out	 		 0		
C. Kapugedera lbw b Mahmood		 0
F. Maharoof c and b Hoggard		22
C. Vaas c Trescothick b Hoggard		31
N. Kulasekara c Strauss b Flintoff	29
M. Muralitharan not out	 		 0						
Extras (lb8, nb10)			18

TOTAL (all out, 55.3 overs, 268 mins)  192
FALL OF WICKETS: 1-0, 2-21, 3-81, 4-81, 5-85, 
6-85, 7-129, 8-131, 9-192, 10-192.
BOWLING: Hoggard 14-4-27-4 (2nb), Flintoff 17.3-2-55-2 (3nb), 
Plunkett 11-0-52-0 (5nb), Mahmood 13-2-50-3.

J. Mubarak b Hoggard		 	6
U. Tharanga c Jones b Panesar		52
K. Sangakkara c Jones b Panesar		65
M. Jayawardene not out			35
F. Maharoof not out 			 5
Extras (b9, lb8, w2, nb1)		20
TOTAL (3 wkts, 64 overs, 264 mins)     183
FALL OF WICKETS: 1-10, 2-119, 3-178.
TO BAT: T. Samaraweera, T. Dilshan, C. Kapugedera, 
C. Vaas, N. Kulasekara, M. Muralitharan.
BOWLING: Hoggard 13-4-26-1, Flintoff 14-2-41-0, 
Mahmood 10-1-35-0 (1w), Plunkett 7-2-28-0, 
Collingwood 5-1-10-0 (1nb, 1w), Panesar 15-5-26-2. 



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