England marching towards victory – first Test vs. Sri Lanka

England 193 and 111-2 (Jonathan Trott 40*, Kevin Pietersen 29*, Rangana Herath 2-52) requires another 229 to beat Sri Lanka 318 and 214 (Prasanna Jayawardene 61*, Thilan Samaraweera 36, Graeme Swann 6-82).

Graeme Swann - star performaer with 6 wickets in second innings
Graeme Swann – star performaer with 6 wickets in second innings

England was cruising towards the target of 340 runs set by Sri Lanka in the first Test and has scored 111-2 with two days to spare.

The Lankan Lions posted 318 runs on board in their first innings and England was sent back to the pavilion for 193. The home side was bowled out for 214 runs in their second innings and the visitors reached at 111 with eight wickets in hand at stumps on the third day.

Earlier, the Islanders started the third day at 84 with five wickets still in hand in 34 overs whereas Dinesh Chandimal and Suraj Randiv were unbeaten for 17 and two runs respectively. They kept the score board moving under tight bowling from England and took the score to 114 runs when Chandimal was caught at mid-off by Kevin Pietersen, off Monty Panesar for 31. Randiv followed him next with the addition of just one run in the total at his individual feat of 18 runs.

The home side was reeling at 127 for the loss of eight wickets when Prasanna Jayawardene and Chanaka Welegedara joined at the crease and offered a substantial resistance to the rival bowlers. The runs were difficult to come but the duo was determined and carried on with the repair job with seldom boundaries. They accumulated 40 runs for the ninth wicket when Welegedara was caught by Andrew Strauss on the bowling of Panesar for 13 runs.

Suranga Lakmal was the last man in and gave the required support to Jayawardene who opted for offence and dispatched 10 runs to Monty Panesar in the 73rd over which included one six and a four. The flow of runs was accelerated as Jayawardene sent the fifth ball of the 76th over flying over the rope and achieved his fifty in style. The last wicket produced valuable 47 runs as Lakmal became the last victim for 13 runs. Prasanna Jayawardene displayed a heroic knock of unbeaten 61 off 123 balls with three sixes and even fours as their second innings was folded back at 214 runs.

Graeme Swann was the star performer with six wickets, Panesar held two and Broad claimed one.

Sri Lanka set a target of 340 runs for England to win the match and they started off in a positive manner as Alastair Cook sent the ball reeling of the boundary twice in the second over and Andrew Strauss did it once in the next over. The visitors lost the first wicket of Cook who was caught behind by the wicketkeeper Prasanna Jayawardene, off Rangana Herath for 14 runs.

The first wicket was gone at 31 when Jonathan Trott joined in with Strauss who was dropped at 24 runs by the wicketkeeper on a deflection from the pads of the silly point fielder off Tilakaratne Dilshan. The chance was not utilized by Strauss and he was caught brilliantly by Dilshan on the bowling of Herath for 27 runs.

The visitors were in trouble after losing their openers for 48 when Kevin Pietersen took guards as Trott survived a couple of leg before wicket appeals in the 20th over. He replied by adding 10 runs in the next over with the assistance of two fours as Pietersen also joined in ensuring useful runs at the other end. The hundred of the innings was scored in the 34th over and they added another 11 runs by the close of the third day’s play. Trott was unbeaten on 40 off 96 balls with 5 fours as Pietersen was consolidating at 29 from 59 deliveries with 4 fours.

England has to bat extremely well on the fourth day as the most runs scored in the fourth innings at Galle in the previous 18 Tests is 253. Sri Lanka will try hard to win the first ever home Test since  the retirement of Muttiah Muralitharan and the result will be obvious on the fourth day.


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