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Last Updated: Friday, 12 December, 2003, 14:06 GMT
Under-confident Sri Lanka
Jonny Saunders on the Kandy Test match
By Jonny Saunders
BBC Sport in Kandy

Andrew Flintoff
Flintoff left the field while bowling complaining of stiffness

I'm still slightly in shock at Sri Lanka's baffling decision to go off for bad light when they had England at their mercy with an hour to go on the third day of this eventful Kandy Test.

Everyone in the press box was reminded of England's decision to accept the light against South Africa at Headingley earlier this summer when Trescothick and Butcher were playing with what seemed to be great ease.

Fast forward a few months and the boot was on the other foot with Sri Lanka "doing an England" - a decision that could very possibly lose them vital momentum.

The Sri Lankans may argue they'll make the time up on Saturday but that is not really the issue.

At the stage they were at, they had a fairly impressive lead of 127 runs and two batsmen in Jayasuiya and Sangakarra who can give the ball a biff.

Flintoff was off the field - clearly struggling with stiffness - and England were down to three recognised front line bowlers in Giles, Batty and Kirtley.

Of those three it was the two spinners who were bowling.

So the batsmen were under no sort of physical threat and had the ability and time to rub England's collective noses in the dirt.

Instead Sri Lanka decided it would be prudent to call it a day.

It's advantage Sri Lanka but England will sniff an opportunity after the bad light decision
To me it means England can regroup and come out as a fresher and more cohesive unit.

If England can regroup and take wickets good luck to them but they're now playing catch up in this Test and are probably already thinking about batting all day Sunday to try and save the game.

The batting on Friday was mixed from the tourists.

Thorpe was mightily impressive as was Batty but once again Flintoff and Read struggled.

After a purple patch with the willow, the Lancashire all-rounder is going through a bit of a drought.

He'll be keen to get runs in the second innings to avoid being tagged as a man who can't hack it on pitches on the subcontinent.

There's absolutely no doubt he can bat - just ask the South Africans - he just needs to show immense application against the mighty Murali and the other Sri Lankan spinners.

Read too can also bat. The problem for the Notts keeper - who incidentally has kept very well in both Tests so far - is that any long trot of bad form will raise the inevitable comparisons with his predecessor Alec Stewart.

So it's advantage Sri Lanka but England will sniff an opportunity after the bad light decision.

Are the Sri Lankans an under-confident group?

The evidence on Friday would suggest they are.





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