Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

Gritty Sri Lanka Make Life Tough for England

Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

Gritty Sri Lanka Make Life Tough for England

Article excerpt

Byline: Tom Collomosse Cricket Correspondent at Headingley

ENGLAND were preparing for a challenging run chase to achieve their first Test win since last August after Sri Lanka increased their lead to 203 in today's opening session.

Liam Plunkett struck with consecutive deliveries to remove Dinesh Chandimal and Dhammika Prasad and returned after lunch needing only one more wicket to take his tally for the match to 10 -- a fine return for a cricketer recalled to the Test team this summer after a seven-year absence.

Before Plunkett's contribution, Jimmy Anderson took the crucial wicket of Mahela Jayawardene, who was caught behind for 79, but England's most experienced bowler was not at his best, particularly with the new ball.

After Jayawardene's departure, it was left to Sri Lanka captain Angelo Mathews to steer his team to a competitive total and he responded to the task with alacrity. At lunch, Mathews was 79 not out, with Sri Lanka 311 for seven. The highlight of Mathews's innings was an amazing flick over midwicket for six off Plunkett, comfortably the fastest bowler on either side.

Knowing that victory here would also seal the two-match Investec Series, England dominated most of the first two days but Sri Lanka, a team of street fighters with two world-class players in Jayawardene and Kumar Sangakkara, battled their way back into the match.

The tourists came back for the afternoon session confident that, against an inexperienced England batting line-up, they could cause problems in the fourth innings, especially with left-arm spinner Rangana Herath bowling on a wearing pitch.

It was Herath who was still there with Mathews at lunch, after Sri Lanka recovered from the loss of those three quick wickets.

England were poor in the opening half-hour, as Jayawardene and Mathews scored freely in the seven overs before the new ball. The pair added 40 to the overnight total of 214 for four in that opening 30 minutes and when 80 overs were complete, England did little better with the new ball. Anderson, especially, and Stuart Broad were inconsistent with both line and length and the Sri Lankan pair were made to play at far too few deliveries. …

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