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Sri Lanka v England 2nd Test



Second Test, SSC Colombo: (day five, close)
Sri Lanka 548-9 dec drew with England 351 & 250-3

By James Standley

England captain Michael Vaughan smiles after reaching his fifty
Michael Vaughan helped his side towards safety on Thursday

England drew the second Test against Sri Lanka and kept the series alive after rain brought an early end to the match in Colombo.

England reached 250-3, with their top order all weighing in, before play was halted at tea on the final day.

Fifties from Michael Vaughan, Alastair Cook and Ian Bell ensured the tourists will travel to Galle for the final Test with a chance to level the series.

Kevin Pietersen was 45 not out at the close, with Paul Collingwood on 23.

England bossed the morning session on an easy-paced pitch with Vaughan and Cook completing their second hundred partnership of the match.

It was only the eighth time an opening pair had produced a century partnership in both innings of a Test match and the first time an English pair have managed the feat since Geoff Boycott and John Edrich against Australia in 1970-71.

606: DEBATE
SA

In the first over Vaughan survived an lbw shout from Lasith Malinga but he also picked up two boundaries and the England captain looked in prime form.

However, a lofted check drive over mid-off when Fernando held one back was an omen of what was to come.

The big Sri Lanka paceman, who is playing through the pain from an ankle problem, was varying his speed cleverly and when he took the pace off a delivery Vaughan drove it straight into Fernando's midriff to depart for 61.

Bell joined Cook and they guided England to 152-1 at lunch with Sri Lanka captain Mahela Jayawardene regularly rotating his attack as he strove for a breakthrough.

Despite finding turn as always, Muttiah Muralitharan was dealt with fairly comfortably and it was part-time leg-spinner Chamara Silva who took the second wicket.

He had forced Cook to grope at a couple before lunch and with the first ball after the interval he persuaded the left-handed opener to edge to slip for 62.

Bell started brightly, taking two fours off his first over from Chaminda Vaas, and he was not afraid to use his feet to the spinners, dancing down the pitch to loft Muralitharan through mid-on for four off the last ball of the morning session.

Sri Lanka captain Mahela Jayawardene holds the catch to remove Alastair Cook in Colombo
Cook scored his second fifty of the game before edging to slip

He put on fifty with Pietersen but no sooner had the pair taken England into the lead, the Warwickshire man tried to attack Muralitharan again and succeeded only in lofting the ball to the diving Michael Vandort at long-on to depart for 54.

From a position of some comfort England, with the inexperienced Ravi Bopara at six and a long tail, were suddenly feeling a touch insecure.

What they needed was a calming influence and Collingwood was just the man to settle the nerves.

Over the next 10 overs the Durham scrapper ground out just 21 runs with Pietersen as Muralitharan and Vaas applied pressure.

Pietersen was as happy to graft away as Collingwood but the pressure was released when leg-spinner Silva came on and his first delivery, a horrible long-hop, was hoisted over mid-wicket by the Hampshire man for England's first six of the series.

With a 53-run lead at tea, England would have been very confident of saving the match and the arrival of the rain brought a swift conclusion to a game which had long since seemed destined for a draw.

Sri Lanka take a 1-0 lead into the Galle Test, which starts on 18 December.



SEE ALSO
Vaughan targets success in Galle
13 Dec 07 |  England
England weigh up player rotation
12 Dec 07 |  England
England face battle to save Test
12 Dec 07 |  England
England checked by Malinga burst
09 Dec 07 |  England
England in Sri Lanka 2007
25 Jun 07 |  Cricket


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