Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

England Fear a Whitewash as Skipper Hits Second Ton of Series

Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

England Fear a Whitewash as Skipper Hits Second Ton of Series

Article excerpt


ENGLAND were fighting hard against all the odds at Old Trafford today. Already 3-0 down in the five- match NatWest Series and desperate to prevent Sri Lanka taking another step towards a whitewash, they went into this contest without two of their most reliable batsmen as Kevin Pietersen (knee) and Paul Collingwood (thigh) joined the long list of absentees.

Then, despite pockets of improved bowling from a reshuff led attack, Andrew Strauss's side faced the possibility of another big run-chase - due mainly to Mahela Jayawardene's second century in as many games.

Having scored 126 at Chester-le-Street on Saturday, Sri Lanka's skipper made England pay for two dropped catches here - on seven and 27 - by reaching three figures from just 82 deliveries.

But when spinner Jamie Dalrymple removed Jayawardene without addition, via a leading edge caught and bowled, Strauss's men could suddenly see some daylight.

Apart from opener Upul Tharanga (60), no one else had given the captain too much assistance. And at 228 for six after 40 overs, Sri Lanka's hopes of a huge total had been dented.

Pietersen and Collingwood joined Michael Vaughan, Andrew Flintoff, Ashley Giles, Simon Jones, Jimmy Anderson and Ian Blackwell on the sidelines - meaning that the line-up included just four players who would be considered automatic choices for England's strongest one-day XI.

But even Strauss, Marcus Trescothick, Geraint Jones and Harmison haven't set too many pulses racing during this series.

Harmison's first foray suggested nothing much was going to change.

His opening delivery confirmed earlier impressions that a green-tinged pitch had plenty of bounce in it - rising steeply to hit Tharanga on the shoulder.

But, three times in the over, Harmison's accuracy deserted him to hand Sri Lanka free runs by way of wides.

Kabir Ali made an even dodgier start.

A late addition to the squad because of Glen Chapple's stomach strain, the Worcestershire paceman landed his first two balls short and wide, and that was all the invitation Sanath Jayasuriya needed to cut boundaries. …

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