Wed, Nov 28, 2007 - Page 20 News List

England win warm-up game


Alastair Cook bats during the final day of a three-day warm-up match in Colombo yesterday.


Michael Vaughan's England celebrated a morale-boosting win ahead of the Test series against Sri Lanka as the gloom lifted around the injury-hit tourists yesterday.

England, preparing for Saturday's first Test in Kandy, surpassed a victory target of 246 for the loss of five wickets in the last session of a three-day practice match against a Sri Lanka Cricket XI in Colombo.

Left-handed opener Alastair Cook led the charge with 58 and Kevin Pietersen made 59 on a slow track at the Nondescript Cricket Club where England were dismissed for 134 in the first innings.

The victory was set up the previous evening by Yorkshire paceman Matthew Hoggard, who grabbed five wickets including three in one over to send the hosts crashing to 81-all-out.

Wicket-keeper Matthew Prior clinched the win with two consecutive boundaries off Jehan Mubarak to remain unbeaten with 27 alongside Owais Shah (33-not-out).

England had further reason to smile as fast bowler James Anderson recovered from a bruised ankle that forced him off the field on the second day and looks certain to play in the first of three back-to-back Tests.


However, strike bowler Steve Harmison is likely to miss the Kandy Test even though scans on a troublesome back at a local hospital yesterday morning showed no serious injury.

Harmison, 29, who suffered back spasms on Sunday, was a late entrant to the touring squad after proving his fitness playing first-class cricket in South Africa following a hernia surgery.

Vaughan said later his team was ready to take on Sri Lanka in the Test series.

"It's always difficult in this part of the world, so this was a good game of cricket for us to win," the England captain said. "We feel we are in good spirits going into the first Test.

"How much of an impact this result has on the Tests remains to be seen. But yesterday we were looking like losing, so to come through and win shows a lot of character, which is a good sign for the team."

The SLC XI added four runs to their overnight total of 77-8 before being all out for 81 with Kaushal Lokuarachchi unable to bat as a result of a hand injury.

first wicket

Vaughan and Cook put on 50 for the first wicket before the England captain, who made 28, mis-hit a ball from part-time bowler Mubarak to Tillekeratne Dilshan at point.

Ian Bell, looking to step up the scoring, top-edged a drive off Dilshan to long-on as England slipped to 74-2.

Pietersen and Cook put on 65 either side of the lunch interval before both departed in quick succession.

Cook, England's man in form with 63 in the tour opener and 35 in the first innings here, hit six boundaries before he was trapped leg-before by Mubarak.

Pietersen smashed five fours and a six when he edged an intended cut off another part-time bowler Chamara Kapugedara to wicket-keeper Kaushal Silva.

The home side missed the leg-breaks of Lokuarachchi, the lone specialist spinner in the team who dislocated his right index finger while attempting a return catch off Bopara on Monday.

England leave for Kandy today for three days of hard training before the first Test.

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