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March 21, 2012
Sri Lanka Development XI 431 for 6 dec (Silva 163, Perera 85) and 44 for 1 lead England XI 272 for 4 dec (Strauss 100, Trott 101) by 203 runs
It was, perhaps, a particularly important innings for the England captain. Strauss has scored just one Test century in his last 46 Test innings and none at all since November 2010. While a century in a warm-up game will count for little in the grand scheme of things, this was an innings that suggested Strauss' form is returning. It will also ensure he goes into the first Test, which starts in Galle on Monday, with renewed confidence.
Strauss welcomed the arrival of slow left-armer Sajeewa Weerakoon into the attack by lofting his second delivery over long-off for six. He did enjoy one moment of fortune when, on 95, he edged a delivery from Vishwa Fernando that failed to carry to the wicketkeeper, but went on to register his first century for England in any format since his 158 in the World Cup tie against India in February 2011, and his first in first-class cricket for England since the first Test of the 2010 Ashes.
Trott also looked solid. Clinical off his legs and quick to latch on to anything short or overpitched, he drove sweetly and took a particular shine to the bowling of Weerakoon and Isuru Udana. Both men reached their centuries from 140 deliveries and promptly 'retired out' to enable their colleagues to gain some time at the crease.
"We declared in the hope of getting a target set for us tomorrow and making a game of it rather than bat another 20 overs and let the game peter out," Trott said. "It's always good to keep things competitive so we are putting ourselves under pressure.
"You have to manage yourself, your dehydration and stuff like that, if you want to score here. To score a hundred or a double-hundred you've got to be able to bat for long periods of time. We are training very hard in the heat early in the morning or late in the afternoon testing ourselves and hopefully we can benefit from it."
While England's top three will go into the Test series with runs behind them - Alastair Cook also scored a century in the first warm-up match - concerns linger over the form of Ian Bell. Bell, who endured a wretched tour of the UAE, got off the mark with a six over extra cover, but soon clipped one to short midwicket for 14. Bell's previous innings on the tour lasted only two deliveries and he averaged 8.5 in the Test series against Pakistan.
Kevin Pietersen also impressed for a while, striking a four and a six in a run-a-ball 26, but fell to left-arm spin once again when he was drawn down the pitch by Weerakoon, beaten by turn and stumped.
Declining the opportunity for the likes of Ravi Bopara, Samit Patel and Matt Prior to enjoy a prolonged period at the crease, England declared 159 runs behind. That not only increased the opportunity for Bell and Pietersen to benefit from another bat on the third and final day, but also allowed the England management to see how their bowlers reacted to another spell in the hot and humid conditions. A potential batting stand-off between Patel and Bopara, however, for the right to bat at No. 6 in Galle, was stillborn.
The Sri Lankan Development XI stretched their lead by 44 - to 203 - before stumps. Stuart Broad was the only successful bowler, bouncing back from being hit for boundaries from his first two deliveries by trapping Malinda Warnapura leg before wicket.
At the start of the second day, the Development XI had batted on for almost an hour. They added 55 in ten overs, with Kaushal Lokuarachchi making a fluent half-century and Angelo Perera reaching 85 before he upper-cut Steven Finn to third man. That was the only wicket England took in the session and Sri Lanka declared after 100 overs, as was agreed by both sides before the game.
Edited by David Hopps
© ESPN Sports Media Ltd.
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