Sangakkara, Prasanna frustrate England

Published: Saturday, December 1, 2007, 16:04 [IST]
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Kandy: Kumar Sangakkara and Prasanna Jayawardene put on a century stand to herald Sri Lanka's fightback in the first Test against England here on Saturday.

The sixth-wicket pair, who joined forces before lunch with Sri Lanka tottering on 42-5 after a deadly Matthew Hoggard burst, lifted the hosts to 180-7 by tea on the opening day.

Left-handed Sangakkara remained unbeaten on 86 and Jayawardene, who took over as Test wicket-keeper from Sangakkara last year, made 51 in a valuable stand of 104.

Sangakkara continued the same form that saw him compile 192 in the second Test against Australia in Hobart earlier this month. He has so far hit 12 boundaries and appears set for his 16th Test century.

Left-arm spinner Monty Panesar broke the partnership 30 minutes before tea when Jayawardene patted a ball to Alastair Cook at forward short-leg.

Panesar also bowled 100-Test veteran Chaminda Vaas just before the break as England regained their pre-lunch advantage.

Sri Lanka's delight at winning the toss and batting first on the slow pitch was short-lived as Hoggard grabbed four wickets in a hostile opening spell to wreck the hosts' top order.

About 3,000 English supporters, who almost outnumbered local fans, saw 30-year-old Hoggard slice through the batting, with three of his victims falling to catches by wicket-keeper Matthew Prior.

Left-handed Sanath Jayasuriya, who is reportedly considering retiring from Test cricket before the series is over, hit two superb cover drives in the first two overs, but did not last long.

The 38-year-old perished in the third over when he drove Ryan Sidebottom uppishly to the cover region, where Kevin Pietersen lunged to his right to take a good catch with both hands.

Michael Vandort fell in the 10th over when he mistimed a flick off Hoggard on the slow pitch and offered England captain Michael Vaughan an easy catch at mid-on.

England struck immediately after the first drinks interval when Hoggard forced Sri Lankan skipper Mahela Jayawardene (one) to edge an outswinger to Prior.

The Yorkshire paceman, who fashioned England's win in a first-class match in Colombo earlier this week with a five-wicket haul, then removed Chamara Silva and Jehan Mubarak in similar fashion in his next over.

England awarded a Test cap to Ravi Bopara, preferring the 22-year-old Essex all-rounder to Owais Shah for the number six spot left vacant by the injured Andrew Flintoff.

The tourists also left out Steve Harmison to pick a three-man seam attack in Hoggard, James Anderson and Sidebottom, with a lone specialist spinner, Monty Panesar.

Sri Lanka also chose three seamers, leaving out leg-spinner Malinga Bandara to play Dilhara Fernando.

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