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Rediff.com  » Sports » Sri Lanka stage great escape to draw first Test

Sri Lanka stage great escape to draw first Test

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May 16, 2006 00:27 IST

Sri Lanka negotiated one of the great escapes on Monday by batting through the final day to draw the first Test against England at Lord's.

The Sri Lankans, forced to follow on after scoring only 192 in reply to England's first innings 551 for six declared, extended their overnight second innings total of 381 for six to 537 for nine when bad light stopped play. It was the highest second innings score ever recorded at Lord's.

Number 10 Nuwan Kulasekara, who had a previous best of 13 from two previous Tests, batted with the assurance of a veteran to score 64 in more than three hours at the crease.

He hit seven fours and lofted left-arm spinner Monty Panesar into the Tavern stand for two sixes during a partnership of 105 with Chaminda Vaas (50 not out), a Sri Lankan ninth wicket record against all countries.

Tillakaratne Dilshan scored 69, also eating up three hours of precious time, and 19-year-old debutant Chamara Kapugedera scored only 10 but occupied the crease for just under an hour.

England were again badly let down by their fielding, grassing two simple catches and one harder chance, to add to their six previous misses.

Captain Andrew Flintoff also appeared to rotate his bowlers by numbers and continued to employ conventional field settings when the situation cried out for pressure to be placed on the tailenders.

MISSED CHANCES

Flintoff, normally one of the safest slip catchers in the world, dropped the easiest of chances by his standards before Kapugedera had added to his overnight total of five after play started 20 minutes late because of light rain.

Alastair Cook then fumbled his second catch of the innings, a crucial one as it proved, when he reprieved Kulasekara on 14. In the final session Paul Collingwood also recorded his second miss of the match when he failed to hold a high chance off Vaas when the batsman had scored 41.

Kapugedera was the first to go, caught by wicketkeper Geraint Jones gloving an attempted hook off Flintoff. It was Jones's fifth dismissal of the innings.

Dilshan added 30 to his overnight total before giving Liam Plunkett his first wicket of the match with an edge to Marcus Tresothick at slip. He had hit 11 fours for his eighth Test half century.

England took lunch 20 minutes early after another shower and at that stage victory seemed in sight.

Although their pace bowlers regularly beat the outside edge, they could not dislodge either of the ninth wicket pair who batted with increasing assurance in the afternoon session to take their team to 510 for eight at tea with 47 overs remaining.

Flintoff, who had bowled with great heart from the Pavilion End, beat Vaas three times from as many balls outside the off-stump in his 50th over then took his sweater.

Collingwood bowled in his place but after Matthew Hoggard dismissed Kulasekara, Flintoff immediately resumed the attack, hitting Muttiah Muralitharan on the left hand. The umpires then took the sides off for bad light.

Vaas continued to play serenely when play resumed, reaching his 10th Test half-century with seven fours before the players left the field for the final time.

Sri Lanka captain Mahela Jayawardene, who scored 61 in the first innings followed by a marathon 119 in the second to keep his team in the game, was named man-of-the-match.

John Mehaffey
Source:
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