Giles gives England the edge
Close Sri Lanka 138 for 4 (Jayasuriya 48, Sangakkara 39*, Giles 3-13) v England
First blood to Ashley Giles, who finished with three wickets: Sanath Jayasuriya departs for 48
© Getty Images 2003
Ashley Giles emerged as the unlikely hero for England, returning to form with three wickets to give his side the edge on a rain-affected first day at Galle. It was a tale of two halves either side of a two-hour rain delay in the afternoon: the first one belonged to Sri Lanka, but England hit back to take the honours in the second as Sri Lanka closed on 138 for 4.
On another brutally hot day, Michael Vaughan was beginning to rue his failure to call correctly at the toss - today was his eighth reverse in his last nine internationals - as Sanath Jayasuriya and Marvan Atapattu fended off the new ball and passed 3000 Test runs together as an opening pair. Atapattu was as watchful as ever, while Jayasuriya started with a bang, but then also knuckled down to solid defence.
England's bowling was economical rather than threatening. Paul Collingwood, making his Test debut in place of Nasser Hussain, who has a viral infection, was brought on for a brief spell and found some useful shape with his outswingers. Gareth Batty, who had to be dragged from the sea after a surfing incident on Monday evening, was brought on ahead of Giles, and bowled with good flight and spin, but with no result.
Atapattu and Jayasuriya slowly stepped up the pace. Jayasuriya had a couple of chances to free his arms and gleefully carted the ball past point, even though he also cut a couple of streaky boundaries, especially off Batty. And just as the dark clouds approaching the ground seemed to pose the most threat to the batsmen, Giles eventually made the breakthrough in his second over. Jayasuriya, on 48, lunged forward and clipped the ball off the pad straight to Collingwood at short leg (76 for 1).
It was a welcome relief for England and eased the pressure in the horribly humid conditions, but just as they had something to shout about, the customary afternoon storm swept across the ground. The groundstaff, which had been in place for half an hour, knew what was coming and dragged the collection of covers onto the ground as the players scurried for shelter.
But a change in weather brought a change in luck for England. After play resumed, Andrew Flintoff made an immediate impact with the wicket of Atapattu. Flintoff hurled a short ball down the leg side and Atapattu gloved it to Chris Read for a watchful 29 (88 for 2).
Ashley Giles celebrates his wicket
© Getty Images 2003
Meanwhile, Kumar Sangakkara was in a hurry to make up for lost time, and he took a liking to Matthew Hoggard in particular. He smashed him through midwicket the first ball after the restart, cut him past point to signal the hundred, and then drove him through the covers for another boundary.
But Giles seized the initiative as the Sri Lankans gradually went into their shell. Bowling round the wicket, he first snatched the big scalp of Mahela Jayawardene. The ball pitched on middle and leg and then straightened to take the inside edge, and flew to Collingwood at silly point via the pad (132 for 3).
Then Hashan Tillakaratne fell for a duck when he attempted to cut Giles through point. Leaning back, he wafted at the ball and edged a sharp catch to Read, and after looking lost in the morning, England were suddenly in control (132 for 4). Unsurprisingly, Sangakkara and Thilan Samaraweera accepted the offer of bad light at 6.05pm local time, and England could reflect one a good first day's work.