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Sunday, 8 April 2012





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England square Test Series with eight-wicket win

It was a case as to how much time the impressive English side after a bitter defeat in Galle would take to win the second test match on the fifth day as they had to score just 94 runs on an extremely hot and humid day at the P. Sara Oval Stadium. After bundling out the Lankans for just 278 runs with a lead of 93 runs just before lunch with off spinner Graeme Swann being the chief wrecker taking six wickets, England led by the sedate Alistair Cook and the brutal Kevin Pietersen reached the target in quick time with a strong Barmy Army contingent jumping, cheering and singing ecstatically in the stands.

England cricketer Graeme Swann with a match bag of 10 wickets helped England to beat Sri lanka by eight wickets. Pic: Saman Mendis

The two match incident filled series was drawn 1-1 with both England and Sri Lanka sharing the Just Retirement trophy and more importantly England retained their Number one spot in test rankings. Kevin Pietersen who just batted magnificently as if it was on a placid wicket was rightly named Man of the Match. Mahela Jayawardena who had a brilliant series as a batsman scoring two majestic hundreds and a gutsy fifty when the team was in dire straits was named Man of the Series.

England chasing a mere 94 runs got off to a poor start as skipper Andrew Strauss was bowled by Tillakaratne Dilshan for nought of the last ball of the first over of the England innings. Strauss was deceived by a beauty by Dilshan as the ball went through his defences and clipped the off stump. Jonathan Trott followed lbw to Rangana Herath as Sri Lanka successfully asked for a referral and the original decision which was not out was over turned.

Alistair Cook signaled his intent by driving and cutting Dilshan for successive boundaries and set the tone, scoring 30 of England's first 40 runs and showed his good form. After Trott fell the flamboyant Kevin Pietersen came to the crease and started dominating bowling with a wide array of masterful shots filled with flair and authority. Pietersen hit Rangana Herath for a six over the bowler’s head and it was a déjà –vu situation as once again Pietersen vs Dilshan battle was on the cards. Pietersen hit two successive fours off Dilshan and also pulled up once when Dilshan was about to deliver the ball and finished off the match with a huge six over deep mid wicket.

Sri Lanka who resumed from their overnight score of 218 for the loss of six wickets were troubled by their nemesis Graeme Swann who ripped through the Lankan batting line up. Swann who started the rampage by getting two crucial wickets of the penultimate over yesterday spun the ball viciously from morning.

England's Alastair Cook (R) takes the catch to dismiss Sri Lanka captain Mahela Jayawardene off Swann. AFP

Swann should have had Angelo Mathews for just three runs of the first over of the day as Mathews was offered a life by Alistair Cook fielding at short leg. Swann was once again unlucky not to have Mathews caught when he was on 12 by the same culprit Alistair Cook.

For Sri Lanka, the onus rested once more on skipper Mahela Jayawardene. Swann, who took 6 for 106 to finish with ten wickets in the match, finally removed him with an excellent ball which turned and bounced to hit the glove and lob easily to Alastair Cook, plunging forward at short leg.

It was the end of a polished defensive innings - 64 from 191 balls with only four boundaries. Mahela who made 354 runs in the entire series was usually the one man army in batting for Sri Lanka.

Prasanna Jayawardene who scored valuable fifty at Galle couldn’t continue his heroics once again as he looked uneasy and troubled against Swann. Prasanna batting at No. 9 due to the two nightwatchmen used by Sri Lanka tried to sweep each and every ball and was bowled around his legs by Swann for just two runs.

Samit Patel also chipped in with his first Test wicket when Rangana Herath anticipated Swann-like turn, found Patel-like turn instead and offered the simplest of chances to James Anderson at slip. Mathews was again left stranded but he put on a handy partnership with last man Suranga Lakmal which resulted in Sri Lanka gaining some valuable runs.

He lofted Tim Bresnan down the ground, reverse-swept Swann and muscled Patel over mid-on, but an erratic surface betrayed him as Steven Finn made one stick in the surface and Mathews, intent upon advancing to drive, could only chip uncomfortably into the leg side where Andrew Strauss took the catch.



Sri Lanka 1st innings: 
275 (M. Jayawardene 105, T. Samaraweera 54, A. Mathews 57, G. Swann 4-75, J. Anderson 3-62)

England 1st innings: 
460 (K. Pietersen 151, A. Strauss 61, A. Cook 94, J. Trott 64, R. Herath 6-133)
Sri Lanka 2nd innings 
(overnight 218-6):
D. Prasad c Bresnan b Finn				34
L. Thirimanne c Strauss b Anderson 			11
T. Dilshan c Anderson  b Swann				35
K. Sangakkara c Prior b Swann 				21
M. Jayawardene c Cook b Swann				64
T. Samaraweera b Swann 					47
S. Randiv b Swann					00
A. Mathews c Strauss b Finn 				46
P. Jayawardene b Swann 					02
R. Herath c Anderson b Patel 				02
S. Lakmal not out					04
EXTRAS: (b4, lb6, w2)					12
TOTAL: (all out, 118.5 overs)			       278

FALL OF WICKETS: 1-23 (Thirimanne), 2-64 (Prasad), 3-104 (Dilshan)
		 4-125 (Sangakkara), 5-215 (Samaraweera), 6-215 (Randiv)
		 7-238 (M. Jayawardene), 8-242 (P. Jayawardene)
		 9-251 (Herath), 10-278 (Mathews)
Bowling: Anderson 20-6-36-1
	 Finn 15.5-1-30-2 (w1)
	 Swann 40-1-106-6
	 Bresnan 14-5-24-0 (w1)
	 Patel 25-7-54-1
	 Pietersen 4-0-18-0

A. Strauss b Dilshan  					00
A. Cook not out						49
J. Trott lbw b Herath					05
K. Pietersen not out      				42
Extras: (lb1)                  				01
Total (for two wkts, 19.4 overs)  			97

Fall of wickets: 1-0 (Strauss), 2-31 (Trott).
Bowling: Dilshan 7.4-1-43-1
	 Herath 9-0-37-1
	 Randiv 3-0-16-0 
England win by eight wickets; draw two-match series 1-1.


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