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The Wisden Bulletin by Freddie Auld
December 10, 2003
Close Sri Lanka 277 for 7 (Dilshan 63, Jayawardene 45, Tillakaratne 45*) v England
Tillakaratne Dilshan during his stylish innings which gave Sri Lanka the early momentum
© Getty Images
A see-saw opening day of the second Test at Kandy ended with Sri Lanka on a respectable 277 for 7. After an early wobble to 84 for 3, handy partnerships between Tillakaratne Dilshan and Mahela Jayawardene, and then Hashan Tillakaratne and Chaminda Vaas, kept them afloat against an England attack which refused to give up.
England sprang an early-morning surprise by calling up James Kirtley ahead of three of England's supposed front-line seamers to take the new ball alongside Andrew Flintoff. It was a bold move by the selectors, and although it's still too early to say whether it was the right decision, it certainly paid dividends at first as England made the early running.
After Michael Vaughan lost the toss for the ninth time in ten matches, England battled hard all day, and Kirtley's skiddy wicket-to-wicket line quickly accounted for Marvan Atapattu. He had flicked Flintoff for a brace of fours, but was caught bang in front of middle as he failed to put in a full stride (20 for 1). Sanath Jayasuriya, who was clattered on the back of the helmet by a well-directed Flintoff bouncer, still appeared to be feeling the effects as he and Kumar Sangakkara compiled a careful 56-run partnership for the second wicket.
But just as Sri Lanka looked to be taking control, Jayasuriya had a brainstorm. He pushed Paul Collingwood - who retained his place in the side as England went for an extra batsman instead of a seamer - into the covers and took off for a single. Sangakkara turned it down, seeing Flintoff swoop in from short cover, but the ball actually went straight to Kirtley at mid-off. Sangakkara eventually had no choice but to run - shades of Steve Waugh's recent dismissal at Brisbane - and was comfortably beaten by the throw (76 for 2).
Things then got even better for England when Jayasuriya attempted to work Giles off his hip. There was some doubt as to whether Jayasuriya got a touch as Chris Read and Nasser Hussain flung themselves towards the ball, with Read winning the race and Hussain earning himself a squashed head for his efforts.
Jayasuriya was rather harshly given out by Daryl Harper, and he has now failed to reach a half-century in 12 attempts against England. More importantly, though, at 84 for 3, England were edging it.
However, Dilshan and Jayawardene changed the pattern of the game with the sort of aggressive batting yet to be seen in this series. Dilshan, on his return to the Test side, made a blistering start, smashing five boundaries in three overs, four of them off Giles. He drove anything full and cut anything remotely short, and he and Jayawardene swung the momentum back Sri Lanka's way.
England celebrate the wicket of Sanath Jayasuriya
© Getty Images
Jayawardene was in good form as well. He took a liking to Kirtley, slashing him past point, and then square-driving a wide one for another boundary. The batsmen posted a fifty partnership off only 56 balls, and after their good morning session, England were beginning to feel the heat.
Jayawardene stroked Giles through the covers, then next ball launched him for a straight six. Vaughan was left scratching his head, given his light bowling options on such a lifeless pitch. Dilshan cruised to his half-century, including eight fours, and the century stand soon followed off only 159 balls.
However, just when England were on the ropes, the pendulum swung back once again. Jawayardene gave the fielders a much-needed lift when he top-edged a sweep off Giles. Kirtley charged in from the square-leg boundary and took a smart catch diving forwards (187 for 4). That wicket meant England went to tea in much better spirits, and Flintoff returned after the break a different bowler, cranking up the pace a notch or two. He banged one in short which rose sharply and flicked Dilshan's glove on the way to Marcus Trescothick at first slip. Dilshan tried to leave the ball, but it was on to him quicker than he thought, and he was on his way for an impressive 63 (201 for 5).
Thilan Samaraweera soon followed when he was given out by Daryl Harper. He padded up to Giles, and the ball hit him outside off stump and looked to be holding its line. However, Harper had no doubts (206 for 6).
England were right back in it, the force with them, but the adhesive 64-run stand between Tillakaratne and Vaas wrenched the advantage back for Sri Lanka. Despite mustering only one run in the first Test, Tillakaratne played with a reassuring authority for Sri Lanka. He used his feet well to the spinners - whose ranks even included Vaughan - and put away anything loose as the bowlers tired. Vaas also smacked a few meaty blows, waiting for anything short and belting it over midwicket.
England took the new ball with five overs remaining, and, in keeping with the fluctuating nature of the day, Kirtley removed Vaas with an offcutter which trapped him plumb in front (270 for 7). Kirtley gave him an unnecessarily mouthy sendoff, but Vaas and Sri Lanka know that England still have a lot of work to do to regain control of this fascinatingly evenly poised match tomorrow.
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