March 9, 2001

England enjoy magnificent day amid more umpiring controversy


England enjoyed an excellent third day in the Second Test against Sri Lanka at Kandy, reducing Sri Lanka to 98 for six - a lead of just eight runs. But once again umpiring controversies dominated the proceedings.

After England's last-wicket pair of Darren Gough and Robert Croft had extended their first innings lead to 90, the tourists' seam bowlers reduced Sri Lanka to 3/3.

Marvan Atapattu was caught behind off Gough's fourth ball and, in probably the most controversial incident of the match, Sanath Jayasuriya fell to Andy Caddick's first delivery, brilliantly caught at slip by Graham Thorpe.

However, the Sri Lankan skipper could not believe the decision, claiming that it was a bump ball. Reluctantly departing the field, he hurled his helmet into an advertising hoarding.

Worse was to follow for the hosts with the first ball of Gough's next over when Aravinda de Silva was caught in the gully by Marcus Trescothick.

Darren Gough
Gough - crucial wicket
Photo CricInfo

Sri Lanka progressed to 42 without further alarm until Craig White was brought into the attack and in his first over he found Mahele Jayawardene's inside edge and the ball clattered into his off stump.

Russel Arnold came in and looked confident, hitting five fours in his 22 until Croft became the first England spinner in the game to claim a wicket, trapping the batsman lbw with the score on 81.

Tillakaratne Dilshan departed for a duck seven runs later, caught by Graeme Hick off Croft. By the close Sri Lanka were 98 for six with Kumar Sangakkara standing firm on 47 and Dharmasena with a single to his name.

Earlier in the day Alec Stewart and White had continued their partnership to take England past Sri Lanka's total of 297 - though not without more umpiring controversy.

Sri Lanka unsurprisingly opted to start the morning with Muttiah Muralitharan and Jayasuriya. The captain did not bowl well, bowling two full tosses in his first two overs, one of which was hit through the leg side for four by Stewart, who also drove Muralitharan through extra cover.

White too played confidently, square cutting Jayasuriya for four and lofting Dharmasena, who replaced Jayasuriya after a three-over burst, over the top for a one-bounce four.

Both batsmen enjoyed some fortune off Muralitharan. In the fifth over of the day White received the benefit of the doubt for a close lbw appeal when on 11 and Stewart looked to have been caught at silly point when on 31.

The Sri Lankans were forced to take the new ball. Unfortunately for them, Nuwan Zoysa, perhaps rusty after so few overs yesterday, was wayward and was square driven to the point boundary in his first over. Chaminda Vaas too struggled with his line.

The first wicket fell with the re-introduction of spin to the attack. Muralitharan nearly captured White when Sangakkara dropped a straightforward chance behind the stumps. But White was then tempted down the wicket by Jayasuriya and Sangakkara stumped the Yorkshireman for 39. With Stewart, he had put on 87 for the sixth wicket.

After lunch Sri Lanka started to pick up wickets. The first to fall was Stewart for 54. He was caught by Dilshan at silly point off the bowling of Jayasuriya. Television replays showed him to have been unlucky as Dilshan seemed to grass the ball, though given his earlier escape it is unlikely that he would have had any complaints.

Muralitharan then bowled both Ashley Giles and Andrew Caddick as they tried to sweep the master off spinner. Giles scored five runs and Caddick seven to leave England on 346 for nine.

Robert Croft
Croft - sensible batting
Photo CricInfo

But then Croft and Gough came together and a combination of sensible batting, good running and several splendid shots, particularly from Croft, took England to 387 before Vaas trapped Gough lbw for ten just before tea. Croft was left unbeaten on 33 and England had a useful lead of 90.