Sanga’s 100 stymies England

Tuesday, 21 June 2011 00:01 -     - {{hitsCtrl.values.hits}}

AFP- Sri Lanka captain Kumar Sangakkara’s maiden Test hundred in England looked set to help the tourists save the series finale at the Rose Bowl here on Monday.

Sri Lanka were 334 for five in their second innings in reply to England’s first innings 377 for eight declared, a lead of 141 at tea on the last day of the third and final Test.

And a draw was made all the all more likely when rain, which had already robbed this match of 155 overs, fell just as the tea break started.

Sangakkara fell shortly beforehand for 119, when the left-hander’s square cut off James Anderson was caught by substitute Adam Rouse at backward point.

His exit ended a fifth-wicket stand of 141 with Thilan Samaraweera.

But Samaraweera was still unbeaten at the interval, closing in on a hundred of his own on 87 not out in the first Test ever staged at southern county Hampshire’s headquarters. Prasanna Jayawardene was unbeaten on six.

It appeared England would have to settle for the 1-0 lead they secured by an innings and 14-run win in the first Test in Cardiff, a result followed by a second Test draw at Lord’s.

Sangakkara had managed just 65 runs in five previous innings this series but, leading Sri Lanka in the absence of the injured Tillakaratne Dilshan, the left-hander restored some pride for the tourists with his 25th Test century.

Sri Lanka resumed on Monday on 112 for three, 81 runs behind, with Sangakkara 44 not out and nightwatchman Rangana Herath unbeaten on two, in overcast, seam bowler-friendly conditions.

But left-hander Sangakkara, who averages over 56 in Tests, showed his class by cover-driving fast bowler Chris Tremlett for four in the first over.

Anderson nearly had Herath out for five but first slip Andrew Strauss was distracted by Graeme Swann, moving across from second slip, and the England captain dropped the fast-travelling chance.

When first-change Stuart Broad came on, Herath, primarily a left-arm spinner, pulled him for a well-struck boundary. Broad later twice left the field with a bruised left heel.

Herath was eventually lbw on the backfoot to off-spinner Swann after missing a sweep for a gutsy 36, but that was as good as it got for England in a morning session where they took just the one wicket.

Sri Lanka reached lunch on 226 for four, with Sangakkara 89 not out and Samaraweera 26 not out.

By that stage the 33-year-old Sangakkara, who resigned as Sri Lanka captain after their World Cup final defeat by India in Mumbai in April, had surpassed his previous Test-best in England of 66 at Trent Bridge five years ago.

England, though, were only one more over away from the new ball, which they duly took as soon as they could.

Sangakkara went into the 90s with a lucky four over the slips off Anderson before a comfortable single off Broad saw him to a hundred featuring 13 fours and spanning nearly five and a half hours after he came in at 25 for one.

England had built a strong position by bowling Sri Lanka out for just 184 in the tourists’ first innings, with Tremlett taking a Test-best six for 48.

They then replied with 377 for eight declared, a lead of 193, with Ian Bell making 119 not out -- his second century of the series following his unbeaten 103 in Cardiff.