England pace bowlers impress in the rain

England's pace bowlers excelled on a rain-disrupted first day to reduce Sri Lanka to 81 for four in the...

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England's pace bowlers excelled on a rain-disrupted first day to reduce Sri Lanka to 81 for four in the third and final test on Thursday.

James Anderson completed figures of two for 24 and Chris Tremlett took two for 17 as a combination of probing fast bowling and undisciplined batting allowed England to take control of the match. Thilan Samaraweera was on 24 not out, including four boundaries, and Prasanna Jayawardene on 10 at the close.

"It was pretty frustrating going on and off the field but I thought we did a good job even if we were pretty lacklustre with our lines and lengths," Tremlett told reporters.

"I suppose we would have liked another couple of wickets and had them six down. We beat the bat a lot and Stuart Broad could have had a few wickets, but we are still pleased."

England, who will claim a fifth series win in a row if they avoid defeat, won the toss after rain saturated the outfield and delayed the start for 75 minutes.

The ball bounced steeply throughout, offered swing in mostly overcast conditions and seam off a pitch that had a green tinge but Sri Lanka battled their way to 23 before debutant Lahiru Thirimanne departed for 10. That led to a collapse as the tourists crashed to 29 for three and 39 for four, with rain breaks splitting several passages of play.


Thirimanne, replacing injured captain Tillakaratne Dilshan, played a loose shot outside his off stump and edged Anderson to Andrew Strauss at first slip on the stroke of lunch.

Tremlett, who formerly played at The Rose Bowl for Hampshire, trapped Piranavitana lbw with a full-length delivery that struck him on his back pad and the Sri Lankan did not bother to review the decision.

Stand-in captain Kumar Sangakkara chased a wide ball from Anderson and edged to wicketkeeper Matt Prior, smashing his bat into the ground in frustration as he left the field.

After another lengthy delay, Mahela Jayawardene also perished to a catch behind the wicket, edging a short Tremlett ball off the shoulder of his bat to Prior.

The six-foot-eight Tremlett was unplayable at times. Mahela Jayawardene was smashed on his gloves with his first ball and another delivery bounced awkwardly and left him off the seam like an 88 mile per hour leg-break.

Samaraweera also received a painful blow in his ribcage off a Stuart Broad delivery that cut back into his body. "It was a bit unfortunate that we should lose four wickets by the end of the day," Sri Lanka batting coach Marvan Atapattu said.

"We were a bit unlucky losing batsmen in those short sessions before and just after lunch. But stop-start sessions is something we know is possible when you come to England."

There was a disappointing attendance of just 6,439 for The Rose Bowl's first day as a test ground, well short of the 15,000 capacity.