England fight back against Sri Lanka

England took two wickets late on a rain-marred opening day against Sri Lanka after the tourists threatened to make an ideal start to the first Test at Sophia Gardens on Thursday.

Updated: May 27, 2011 09:39 IST
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Cardiff: England took two wickets late on a rain-marred opening day against Sri Lanka after the tourists threatened to make an ideal start to the first Test at Sophia Gardens on Thursday.

Sri Lanka, who closed on 133 for two, were 93 for none before they lost captain Tillakaratne Dilshan (50) and former skipper Kumar Sangakkara (11) to be 114 for two.

Tharanga Paranavitana was 58 not out and Mahela Jayawardene unbeaten on four after rain meant only 48 out of a scheduled 90 overs were possible on the first day of this three-Test series.

"Tharanga batted really well at one end and I put the loose ball away," Dilshan told reporters after helping compile Sri Lanka's best opening partnership in a Test in England.

"We're really happy to finish at 133 for two but personally I'm really disappointed to get in and then play a bad shot."

Left-handed opener Paranavitana, who cut Chris Tremlett for four to bring up his fifty, has so far batted for more than three-and-a-half hours, facing 154 balls including six boundaries.

Dilshan reined himself in after winning the toss but still made fifty off 92 balls, with seven fours, and during his innings he became the ninth Sri Lanka batsman to score 4,000 Test runs.

But two balls after reaching his half-century he tried to cut a ball from off-spinner Swann that was too close to him and played on.

Swann, who often takes a wicket early in his spell, finished the day with impressive figures of one for 12 in eight overs.

Anderson meanwhile had a return of one for 42 off 15, including a miserly opening spell of seven overs for seven runs.

Dilshan's departure ended an opening stand of 93 that gave Sri Lanka a solid foundation in what was their first Test outside the subcontinent since they toured the West Indies in 2008.

Former captain Sangakkara then got off the mark with a typically elegant cover-driven four off James Anderson.

But not long afterwards the Lancashire seamer had his man when England appealed for caught behind against Sangakkara.

Pakistan's Aleem Dar, widely regarded as one of the world's best umpires, ruled in the batsman's favour and that led England, who were convinced Sangakkara had edged through to wicket-keeper Matt Prior, to call for a review.

Rod Tucker took his time and the Australian third umpire eventually gave Sangakkara out.

International Cricket Council chief executive Haroon Lorgat has repeatedly insisted the purpose of the review system is to eliminate the "obvious howler" rather than alter a marginal decision, such as Sangakkara's dismissal.

But Dilshan insisted he'd no problems with the verdict.

"I think technology helped with the Sangakkara decision. After coming back to the dressing-room, he saw the edge shown on HotSpot."

Anderson said: "The strong breeze across meant the guys in front of the wicket didn't hear much but the slips were convinced."

Reflecting on the day's play, he added: "I thought we asked a lot of questions of the batsmen.

"But they put away the bad ball so it will be a hard contest tomorrow (Friday) and further into the game."

Although 9,226 tickets had been sold, only some 6,000 spectators actually turned up for England's first day of Test cricket since winning the Ashes.

However, Anderson insisted: "The crowd was pretty good considering the weather. There was a good atmosphere considering it's cold and wet.

"We can't complain."

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