Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

Prior Repeats His Rearguard Action; Sweeping Gesture: Matt Prior at the Crease in Colombo Today on His Way to Putting Together a Vital 79 in the Second Test

Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

Prior Repeats His Rearguard Action; Sweeping Gesture: Matt Prior at the Crease in Colombo Today on His Way to Putting Together a Vital 79 in the Second Test

Article excerpt

Byline: DAVID LLOYD

MATT PRIOR produced another classy, character-filled half-century beforebeing last man out as England were dismissed for 351 here today.

Prior went so close to salvaging a draw for Michael Vaughan's men in Kandy lastweek when he made 63 on the final afternoon of the First Test, only to beundone by Muttiah Muralitharan.

Here, with England desperate to level the three-match series, their combativekeeper came to the fore by scoring 79 as they recovered from a dodgy start onday two, only for master spinner Murali to have the last word yet again.

England looked to be heading for a substantial total until Muralitharan snappedup the last three wickets in quick succession to finish with figures of fivefor 116.

Remarkably, less than 24 hours after controversy struck with Kevin Pietersenbeing given out because the umpires declined to call for TV assistance, therewas another potential flashpoint.

This time the verdict went England's way.

Ryan Sidebottom, Prior's partner in a crucial eighth-wicket stand of 74, mighthave been given out on 312. But umpire Daryl Harper called in the thirdofficial, who ruled that although the catch had been taken cleanly Sidebottom(below) had not hit the ball.

But it was Prior who held the inning together after Paul Collingwood and StuartBroad had fallen early on this morning.

Collingwood revived Vaughan's men yesterday when they threatened to lose theirway. Pietersen's controversial dismissal, followed by the plain umpiring errorwhich ended Alastair Cook's near six-hour vigil, could have knocked almost allthe stuffing out of England, but their vice-captain made sure they finished onthe front foot.

Today, though, another 20 deliveries brought him only three more runsand then an inexplicably bad piece of misjudgement led to him departing legbefore. Chaminda Vaas used a nearly new ball to test out the right-handers witha succession of inswingers.

Why, then, Collingwood decided to pad up to one during the morning's seventhover only he knows. …

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