Injury-hit England struggle in tour game

Published: Monday, November 26, 2007, 18:15 [IST]
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Colombo: England's Test tour of Sri Lanka hit a low on Monday after injury scares to two key bowlers increased the agony of a miserable batting display in a practice match.

With strike bowler Steve Harmison already a doubtful starter for the first Test in Kandy from Saturday due to back spasms, fellow paceman James Anderson was temporarily sidelined with an injury in the left ankle.

Anderson did not take the field in Sri Lanka Cricket XI's second innings after the tourists were shot out for 134 on the second day of the three-day match at the Nondescripts Cricket Club.

Fast bowler Matthew Hoggard finally gave England reason to smile with a hostile opening spell late in the evening that produced five wickets, including three in one over.

The home team, who made 298-9 declared in the first innings, slumped to 77 for 8 in their second knock by stumps, a lead of 241 runs and the injured Kaushal Lokuarachchi unlikely to bat.

England will attempt to chase a morale-boosting win on the final day on a slow wicket on which 26 wickets have fallen on the first two days.

England's batting was left in disarray by a second-string attack in their last practice match before three back-to-back Tests that end on Dec 22.

Ravi Bopara top-scored with 47 as six batsmen failed to reach double figures and Harmison did not bat after suffering spasms in the lower back while bowling on the first day.

Left-arm seamer Sujeewa de Silva, who played three Tests against Bangladesh in June and is part of Sri Lanka's 14-man squad for the first Test, wrecked the tourists with 4-41.

De Silva began the destruction by bowling England captain Michael Vaughan for zero in his first over and had Ian Bell caught behind for three in his third.

New-ball partner Chanaka Welagedera reduced the tourists to 21-3 by removing Kevin Pietersen for one before Kaushal Lokuarachchi trapped Alastair Cook (35) leg-before to make it 44 for 4.

Owais Shah, fighting with Bopara for the number six Test spot, took an hour to get off the mark and made 26 when he was bowled by seamer Ishara Amarasinghe.

Bopara, the 22-year-old Essex all-rounder hoping to make his Test debut after playing in 19 one-day internationals, was the lone batsman to defy the home team as wickets tumbled at the other end.

Bopara then shared the new ball with Hoggard in the absence of Harmison and Anderson, and even claimed Test contender Malinda Warnapura leg-before for four.

Hoggard bowled the in-form Upul Tharanga in his second over and removed captain Tillekeratne Dilshan, Jehan Mubarak and Chamara Kapugedara in the space of four balls in his fifth over.

Hoggard ended the day with 5 for 25 from nine overs while Bopara claimed 2 for 32.

Brief Scores (D-2):

Sri Lanka XI 298/9 decl and 77/8 (Udawatte 45; Hoggard 5 for 25, Bopara 2 for 32) Vs England 134 (Bopara 47, Alistair Cook 35, Owais Shah 26; Sujeewa de Silva 4 for 41, Welegedera 2 for 35, Lokuarachchi 1 for 9).


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