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Last Updated: Monday, 15 May 2006, 16:49 GMT 17:49 UK
Defiant Sri Lanka thwart England
First Test, Lord's, day five:
England 551-6 dec drew with Sri Lanka 192 & 537-9

Sri Lanka's Nuwan Kulasekara (right) and Chaminda Vaas discuss tactics
Kulasekara (right) and Vaas dug in to end England's hopes

Sri Lanka made an amazing 537-9, their highest ever second-innings score, to earn a draw in the first Test at Lord's as England paid for missing chances.

Building on Tillakaratne Dilshan's 69 earlier in the day, Chaminda Vaas and Nuwan Kulasekara shared a record Sri Lankan ninth-wicket partnership of 105.

Kulasekara (64) and Vaas (50no) were both dropped before bad light ended the match with Sri Lanka 178 runs ahead.

Interruptions for poor weather also conspired against the frustrated hosts.

Captain Andrew Flintoff produced a typically wholehearted effort after tea in a desperate attempt to break the ninth-wicket partnership.

Bowling 51 overs, his highest number in a Test innings, Flintoff went round the wicket and tried unusual deliveries with his front arm hidden low at his side.

Kulasekara, who struck the highest score by a Sri Lankan number 10, got an inside edge into his foot but the ball flew agonisingly past the stumps.

If we had held our catches we would have won this match
Andrew Flintoff

Sajid Mahmood appeared to have trapped him lbw with a slower ball but umpire Rudi Koertzen was unimpressed.

Paul Collingwood drew a similar response from Koertzen's colleague Aleem Dar when he surprised Kulasekara with a rapid bouncer that flicked his sweater.

After the youngster finally holed out to the mid-wicket boundary off Matthew Hoggard, Flintoff rapped last man Muttiah Muralitharan on the glove, prompting the umpires to offer the light and causing a further six-over delay.

Chances were then at a premium, and when Collingwood failed to snare Vaas in the gully off Mahmood there were 26 overs left and England were 167 behind.

It was the ninth catch England had dropped in the match and left even Flintoff to concede that victory had eluded him.

The first surprise in an unexpected sequence of final day events was the weather conditions.

Several forecasts suggested there would be little or no play in the morning, but England were able to send down 19 overs and pick up two important wickets in the opening session.

England celebrate at Lord's
England sensed victory when Tillakaratne Dilshan was dismissed

Catching again caused concern, however, and it was the unlikely figure of Flintoff who was to blame in the third over, with poor old Hoggard yet again the unlucky bowler.

The ball came slightly to the captain's left at second slip but his big hands grappled rigidly with the ball and despite several juggles it fell to the turf.

Chamara Kapugedera had failed to add to his overnight five when the chance was put down, and he moved on to 10 before a Flintoff bouncer in the 10th over was too quick for his attempted hook and the ball looped gently to Geraint Jones.

The first change came after 12 overs when Liam Plunkett replaced Hoggard, and the young Durham seamer was finally rewarded for some useful bowling.

In his third over Plunkett found Dilshan's edge and Marcus Trescothick made no mistake, standing perfectly still to pouch the chance at first slip.

Mahmood was introduced after 15 overs and his opening loosener was dispatched to the boundary.

Having nearly decapitated Geraint Jones practising a hook shot between overs, Vaas used the shot in a more conventional way to underline his threat to England in the penultimate over before the abrupt end to the session.

Muttiah Muralitharan and Andrew Flintoff
Flintoff finds a smile at the end of an exhausting, frustrating Test

He hooked successive boundaries off Mahmood, before drizzle intensified to take the players off 20 minutes before the scheduled lunch break.

There were in effect only 10 minutes lost in the afternoon session, which England began using Plunkett and Flintoff.

Two chances went to a vacant silly point before Alastair Cook inexplicably fumbled a routine chance at gully offered by Kulasekara in the first over of a new spell from Mahmood.

After nine overs spinner Monty Panesar was given his first bowl of the day, but having recorded three maidens he was taken off as Hoggard and Flintoff took the new ball.

Both found early movement to beat the bat repeatedly, particularly to the right-handed Kulasekera, but the batsmen weathered the storm and began to look extremely comfortable.

Panesar returned with a maiden but then tried over the wicket into the rough and was swept for six in consecutive overs by the number 10.

Flintoff left the field briefly, presumably for a conference with coach Duncan Fletcher, but the England think-tank could find no solution, and the gloomy conditions summed up the team's mood.

By then it was clear that despite having been 85-6 in response to England's 551-6 declared on the second day, Sri Lanka had conjured up one of the most brilliant rearguard efforts in Test history.

SEE ALSO
England's costly drops
15 May 06 |  England
England v Sri Lanka photos
15 May 06 |  Photo Galleries
England on course for Lord's win
13 May 06 |  England
Trescothick puts England on top
11 May 06 |  Cricket
Sri Lanka in England 2006
27 Jun 05 |  Future tour dates
Live cricket on the BBC
19 Apr 06 |  Cricket


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