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Sri Lanka pull off a hard earned victory

Related Links : England in Sri Lanka 2007/08 : Scorecard

Sri Lanka had to work hard for their victory on the last day of the Kandy Test. England almost were getting themselves in a position of saving the Test Match after a brilliant rearguard action from Ian Bell and Matt Prior. However, Murali’s clinical double blow with the second new ball which removed both Bell and Prior signaled the end of the English hopes.

In the morning session, a probing line just around the off stump from Chaminda Vaas was good enough to send back the two overnight batsmen – Michael Vaughan and James Anderson. Already three down, England lost two more big wickets that of Pietersen and Collingwood to Dilhara Fernando. By lunch, England struggling to delay the inevitable at 125 for 5. After Lunch, Jayasuriya broke the promising partnership between Bell and debutant Ravi Bopara (34) by getting the former lbw.

Sri Lanka were looking to wrap up things with Bell being partnered by Prior who couldn’t even get off the mark in the first innings. But this around, it was a different story altogether for Prior as he hung in there and defended beautifully to keep the Sri Lankans at bay. England saw the post lunch session through at the loss of just Bopara. The dark clouds meanwhile where hovering over in the skies giving plenty of hope for England. The partnership continued to frustrate SL even after Tea which made the Sri Lankans take the second new ball in the 81st over. It was the magic of Murali that crushed England’s chances with a couple of balls that ended the fight of Matt Prior (63 from 147 with 8 fours) and Ian Bell (74 from 209 balls with 6 fours) in the space of eight balls. Both right handers kept the Sri Lankans waiting for more than 40 overs.

The tail didn’t wag for a long time for England because of the difficulty to survive Murali and Lasith Malinga. In the 94th over, it was all over with Hoggard getting cleaned up by a Malinga yorker. Sri Lanka thus took the first test by 88 runs. Vaas and Murali ended up with three wickets each. All the other bowlers used contributed too with wickets. The Man of the Match was given to Kumar Sangakkara ahead of Muralitharan.