Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

Double Act Shine for England Again; One That Got Away: Sri Lankan Opener Michael Vandort Clips a Ball Just Past the Despairing Dive of Ian Bell in Colombo Today

Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

Double Act Shine for England Again; One That Got Away: Sri Lankan Opener Michael Vandort Clips a Ball Just Past the Despairing Dive of Ian Bell in Colombo Today

Article excerpt

Byline: DAVID LLOYD

MATT PRIOR and Ryan Sidebottom, crushed in Kandy last week, combined tokeep England's flag flying here today.

Prior and Sidebottom fell in agonising fashion during that late flurry ofwickets as Sri Lanka won the First Test. Five days later, the pair put togethera priceless eighth-wicket stand of 74 and then, between them, made sure Englandstruck two heavy blows with the new ball.

After six more hours of hard, often uninspiring graft, the Second Test hasstill not tilted one way or the other with Sri Lanka closing on 105 for two inreply to England's 351 all out. But Prior (below) and Sidebottom already haveplenty to be pleased about.

Prior's three-hour innings of 79 was an excellent follow-up to last week'scharacter-packed knock of 63. Then Sidebottom, having kept the keeper companyfor 115 minutes, sent back Upul Tharanga and Kumar Sangakkara in the space ofeight deliveries.

Tharanga's exit was sealed by a fine, diving catch from Prior. But the pairwere happier still to account for Sangakkara, via a routine edge, for just asingle as Sidebottom again found some movement off the pitch.

Sangakkara had averaged 153 since give up wicketkeeping 10 Tests ago, so nowonder England could scent a real chance.

These Sri Lankans love a scrap, though.

Despite debut-maker Stuart Broad, twice warned for running on the pitch in hisfollow through, and Steve Harmison bending their backs, there was to be no morejoy for Michael Vaughan's men, with Michael Vandort and Mahela Jaywardeneremaining unbeaten.

"Kumar is a fantastic player so we were ecstatic to get him out," saidSidebottom.

"We would have liked a few more wickets but, hopefully, we can get on a rolltomorrow." However, it will not be easy for either side to force a victory onthis low, slow pitch and Muttiah Muralitharan, who finished with five for 116,said: "Somebody will have to bat very badly to lose this Test." Act one of thePrior-Sidebottom double act came this morning after the early loss of both PaulCollingwood and Broad suggested the visitors might struggle to total 300. …

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