Murali stymies England with the bat
by AFP

Ground:Trent Bridge, Nottingham
Scorecard:England v Sri Lanka
Player:M Muralitharan, WPUJC Vaas, SL Malinga, MJ Hoggard, MS Panesar, A Flintoff, J Lewis
Event:Sri Lanka in England 2006

DateLine: 2nd June 2006


Muttiah Muralitharan frustrated England with the bat, not the ball, as the home side were left on the backfoot come stumps on the first day of the third and final Test against Sri Lanka at Trent Bridge here Friday.


Off-spinner Murali, a thorn in England's side with 13 wickets this series, put on 62 for the last wicket with Chaminda Vaas to take Sri Lanka to 231 all out after they'd suffered yet another first innings collapse on the way to 169 for nine.


At stumps England were 53 for two, a deficit of 178 runs, as they looked to build on their 1-0 series lead.


Alastair Cook was 12 not out and Kevin Pietersen, who made 142 in England's six-wicket second Test win at Edbgaston, unbeaten on six.


Murali played some outrageous strokes including a falling-over hook for four off England captain Andrew Flintoff, and a pick-up six off debutant pace bowler Jon Lewis, on his way to a 29-ball 33.


Left-hander Vaas, who struck a superb textbook cover-driven four off swing specialist Matthew Hoggard, finished on 38 not out with five boundaries.


Strike bowler Vaas then produced a superb delivery to hit Andrew Strauss's off-stump and leave England 25 for one.


And England lost their other opener when Marcus Trescothick, going for a risky second run, was run out for 24 by Lasith Malinga's throw to wicket-keeper Kumar Sangakkara although it needed third umpire Peter Hartley to confirm the Somerset left-hander's dismissal.


Earlier Flintoff, still deputising as captain for Michael Vaughan, led the attack with three for 52 but he bowled nine no-balls.


Lewis, England's 634th Test cricketer, took an encouraging three for 68 including a wicket with his third legitimate delivery.


The final pair's stand was in marked contrast to a top-order performance that saw Sri Lanka lose three wickets for two runs in 16 balls to go from 84 for one to 86 for four at lunch after captain Mahela Jayawardene, caught behind off Flintoff for nought, had won the toss and batted.


Sanath Jayasuriya, who had not previously played on this tour, had been recalled after being persuaded to end his Test retirement.


But, batting down the order instead of his usual opening role, the 36-year-old left-hander and former captain fell for four.


Jayasuriya failed to get the pitch of a 90mph (150kph) delivery from the fired-up Flintoff, bowling much quicker than at Edgbaston, and was caught off the shoulder of the bat by Pietersen in the gully to leave Sri Lanka in deep trouble at 105 for six.


Earlier, a stand of 82 between left-handers Upul Tharanga (34) and Sangakkara (36) kept England at bay for most of the first session after Lewis had struck in his first over in Test cricket.


Flintoff initiated the slump by having Sangakkara caught by wicket-keeper Geraint Jones although replays suggested the batsman had missed the ball.


Sri Lanka had made just 192 and 141 in the first innings at Lord's, in thr drawn first Test, and at Edgbaston respectively.


And on Friday they saw 30-year-old Gloucestershire seamer Lewis, in for the dropped Sajid Mahmood after five times being 12th man, strike early when Edgbaston centurion Michael Vandort (one) played on after inside edging an attempted cover-drive.


Sangakkara and Tharanga both struck crisp offside boundaries before Flintoff restored order by repeatedly beating the outside edge.

(Article: Copyright © 2006 AFP)


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