Sri Lanka make a better fist

On Thursday, Sri Lanka were poor. On Friday, Kevin Pietersen’s and Sajid Mahmood’s demolishment of them was emphatic. Today, the tourists finally appeared to show some fight. England remain in the driving seat though ine enforcing the follow on and bolstered by two late strikes from young spinner Monty Panesar.

Starting the day in the perillous position of 91/6, captain Mahela Jayawardene, who was the only Sri Lankan to get going yesterday, and Farveez Maharoof took the score to 129 for the fall of the next wicket, aided by some inaccurate bowling from debutant Sajid Mahmood.

Maharoof fell tried to turn a ball from the immaculate Matthew Hoggard, and provided a leading edge for Hoggard to take a fine return catch for Hoggard to claim his 200th Test wicket – becoming the 10th Englishman to reach the milestone.

Jayawardene followed soon after, caught behind of Flintoff having reached 61. However, the Sri Lankan tail end wagged. Vaas and Kulasekara added 61 for the 9th wicket, with the aid of some dropped catches in the slips. Cook and Strauss both dropped Vaas on his way to 31. Hoggard and Flintoff wrapped up the innings and Sri Lanka, still 359 behind, were forced to follow on.

Hoggard continued to show how devistating a bowler he has become, removing Mubarak early on the innings. Mubarak played on to one that swung back in. However, Tharanga and Sangakkara buckled down and put on a hundred partnership. Both players scored half centuries. However, the man least likely to take a wicket in this seam dominated England attack removed them both.

Monty Panesar wasn’t required in the first innings but, when called upon in the afternoon, was impressive. Wicketkeeper Geraint Jones, however, wasn’t – letting Panesar’s first ball turn past him for 4 byes and later dropping Sangakkara
off Panesar. However, Panesar’s accuracy and persistence bore fruit. Both Tharanga (52) and Sangakkara (65) edged to Jones off the spinner, whose figures could have been even better. He had Jayawardene dropped by his opposing captain, Andrew Flintoff, at bat-pad.

Sri Lanka closed at 183-3, still 176 runs behind and with an almost impossible task on their hands to avoid losing this game.

England 551-6 dec
Kevin Pietersen 158, Marcus Trescothick 106, Alastair Cook 89, Paul Collingwood 57
Muttiah Muralitharan 3-158, Chaminda Vaas 2-124

Sri Lanka 192 all out
Mahela Jayawardene 61, Chaminda Vaas 31
Matthew Hoggard 4-27, Sajid Mahmood 3-50

Sri Lanka 183-3
Kumar Sangakkara 65, Upul Tharanga 52
Monty Panesar 2-26, Matthew Hoggard 1-26

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