The Mercury

Sri Lanka stay in the chase

- London

TILLAKARAT­NE Dilshan led Sri Lanka to 372/3 on day three of the second Test against England yesterday, falling seven runs short of his double century before rain forced an early close at Lord’s yesterday.

Sri Lanka resumed on 231/1, still 255 short of England’s first-innings 486, and Dilshan took his secondwick­et stand with Kumar Sangakkara to 81 before the latter edged Chris Tremlett to wicketkeep­er Matthew Prior for 26.

Dilshan then took another bad blow to the thumb he damaged on Saturday and was out six balls later. He had added 66 to his overnight score when Steven Finn bowled him shortly before the umpires called an early tea.

After two days of bright sunshine and near perfect batting conditions, England’s seamers moved the ball regularly under overcast skies. But although the home side returned from lunch with greater urgency in the field and a more consistent line from Tremlett and Finn, rain meant only another 11.2 overs were bowled in the last two sessions.

Mahela Jayawarden­e was unbeaten on 40, with Thilan Samaraweer­a 1 not out when play was halted just five balls and five minutes into the final session. With the floodlight­s on because of poor light, Stuart Broad completed the over he started before tea, swinging two of his three deliveries sharply away from the right-handed Jayawarden­e.

Finn beat Samaraweer­a at the other end and then tempted him into a thick outside edge before the umpires called the players off.

Frustrated by seeing the home bowlers halted just as they were seriously troubling the batsmen, many of the 20 000 fans at Lord’s jeered the decision.

Same story

But the drizzle turned into heavy rain moments after the covers came on and the crowd slowly filtered away, with 50.4 overs still unbowled.

The morning session had partly resembled Saturday afternoon’s, with pacemen Broad and Tremlett menacing for a handful of overs before the Sri Lankans settled on a good batting track.

Broad beat the bat twice with an opening maiden and Tremlett conceded just a leg bye off his first over, lifting one delivery sharply past Sangakkara. That was the pattern for the first half dozen overs, but Dilshan again weathered the early storm.

Dilshan made full use of the bowlers’ tendency to stray down leg side and again tried to hit spinner Graeme Swann out of the attack.

Just as opener Tharanga Paranavita­na had done on Saturday, Sangakkara played the more circumspec­t role in partnershi­p with Dilshan and added only 13 from 64 deliveries faced before he was tempted by a wide delivery from Tremlett in the 81st over. He edged Tremlett’s fourth delivery with the new ball with the shoulder of his bat to Prior.

Sangakkara’s average score in England is just 27.64, less than half of his overall Test average of 56.42.

Having beaten his previous Test best of 168 and passed the previous record of 190 by a Sri Lankan at Lord’s, Dilshan was struck on the bottom hand by a rising ball from Tremlett after lunch.

He dropped his bat and gloves immediatel­y as the ball bent back his already taped thumb. Although he continued after treatment, he was clearly in discomfort from that point and added just one more run before a full-length delivery from Finn cut in and took a slight edge on to his leg stump.

Dilshan’s 253-ball innings gives Sri Lanka some hope of overhaulin­g England’s total. After defeat in Cardiff, Sri Lanka needs a victory to have any chance of winning the three-match series. – Sapa-AP

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