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March 3, 2001
England have cantered to an eight-wicket victory over a Sri Lankan Colts XI in the Welagedara Stadium.
Hussain - 73 runs
Confident batting by Nasser Hussain and, in particular, Marcus Trescothick, took England to their victory target of 250 in just 43.4 overs.
Marcus Trescothick had been forced to leave the field while bowling, prompting fears over his fitness prior to the second Test in Kandy next week. He pulled up in his follow through as he began his third over, and clutching his left knee was forced to hobble of the pitch with a worried Dean Conway.
However, Trescothick returned to open the innings and hit a sparkling 85 in just 68 balls, with 13 fours. Hussain, too, appeared in fine form, striking six fours and two sixes in his 73, and the 100 came up in just 13 overs. The pair added 138 for the first wicket in 24.4 overs. Trescothick was the main aggressor. He reached fifty off just 35 balls and punished a wayward Eric Upashantha for four successive boundaries in the tenth over of the innings. Upekha Fernando, who replaced Upashantha, fared little better, conceding 20 runs from his two over spell of flat off-cutters.
To complete a good work-out for the English batsmen, Hick and Thorpe took England through to a comfortable victory, scoring 38 and 32 not out respectively, though Michael Vaughan may be disappointed that he did not have a chance to impress before the Test.
Earlier, England won the toss and elected to field, perhaps convinced by the green tinge in the wicket. They committed themselves to fielding in the hottest part of the day, however, against a side including eight players with international experience.
The Welagedara Stadium may be picturesque but it also blindingly hot. The giant Elephant Rock that overlooks the ground soaks up the sun and blocks the breeze. The outfield is light brown in colour and promises great value for the batsmen's shots. The wicket, although it has a greenish tinge, is traditionally an excellent batting strip with more pace than the turgid wicket in Galle and the expected pitch in Kandy.
The Sri Lankan openers started confidently, Avishka Gunawardene and Test reject, Romesh Kaluwitharana, adding 68 for the first wicket in 14 overs.
Craig White then pulled England back into the match as he snapped up two quick wickets; Gunawardene caught behind by Nixon playing his first game of the tour, off his eighth delivery and Romesh Kaluwitharana caught at short extra-cover in his fourth over. White finished with 4-37 from his 10 overs.
The Colts XI then consolidated, and the scoring rate slowed as Croft and White contributed economical spells.
This was Jason Brown's first chance to play his a game in England colours. He managed five overs for 30 runs, while Michael Vaughan, also looking to impress, was hit for 35 in his four overs.
A fourth-wicket stand between a combative de Saram, who hit a 53-ball half-century, and a more composed 49 from de Silva, another Test reject, added a further 59. Nevertheless, the Sri Lanka innings fell away towards the close as they lost four wickets in the last ten overs. The Colts side finished on 249-7, setting a challenging rate of five an over for England.
However, there was one moment of controversy when Darren Gough appeared to be involved in a confrontation with de Saram as he went for a run out on the last ball of the 37th over. The bowler spoke to both the batsman and the umpire before leaving the field for a while, although he did return to complete his spell.
Nasser Hussain played down the incident: "As far as I am concerned there was not an incident. I am amazed that there has been a statement released."
He also denied that he had sent Gough off to cool down: "Goughie was unhappy with bowling into the wind and was complaining of a stiff back. I had, anyway, singled to the dressing room that he would be coming off at the end of the over."
He then ended the press conference on a passionate note: "The media can have a go at Darren in the press tomorrow, but they will be barking up the wrong tree and you will be upsetting a lad that tries his heart out for England every day. Give me ten Darren Goughs because I love captaining the lad.
"It was not ideal playing a one-day game here, but it was the right thing to do," Hussain admitted afterwards. "Trescothick took a blow to the knee and there are a few niggles in the team. They will all hopefully be fine before the Test Match but it could have been different if we had played in this heat, on this hard outfield, with all the travel for three days."
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