Steve strikes hurt SL

2007-12-19__sp061.jpgSteve Harmison grabbed three wickets as England took the opening day’s honours in the third and final cricket Test against Sri Lanka here on Tuesday.
England, seeking a series-levelling win, put Sri Lanka in to bat on a moisture-laden wicket and reduced them to 147-4 in a shortened day’s cricket at the Galle International Stadium.
Just 55 of the stipulated 90 overs were sent down in the first big game at the refurbished stadium, which was destroyed by the Asian tsunami in December 2004.
The match, watched by some 7,000 local and England supporters, started two hours late at 12 noon (0630 GMT) due to a wet outfield caused by overnight rain.
Sri Lankan captain Mahela Jayawardene hit an unbeaten half-century to keep the hosts afloat as Harmison dealt heavy blows, including two valuable wickets in the final session.
Jayawardene followed his 195 in the drawn second Test in Colombo with a classy 51 not out that was studded with six boundaries.
Left-handed Kumar Sangakkara (46) put on 88 for the third wicket with his captain after Sri Lanka were reduced to 44-2 within the first 15 overs.
Sangakkara was lucky to get that far, having survived a loud appeal for a catch at the wicket off Matthew Hoggard before lunch when he was on 21.
Television replays revealed a thin edge off the bat which Australian umpire Daryl Harper did not notice.
Sangakkara, however, fell in the second over after tea when he hooked Harmison to deep square-leg where Monty Panesar took a well-judged catch.
Harmison then forced new batsman Chamara Silva to edge a catch to Ian Bell at first slip as Sri Lanka slipped from 132-2 to 138-4 in the final session.
Tillekeratne Dilshan, making a comeback after being dropped for the recent Australian tour, was unbeaten on seven when the umpires called off play due to bad light.
A heavy downpour hit the ground soon after the players came off, raising fears of another delayed start on the second day.
England captain Michael Vaughan’s aggressive decision to give Sri Lanka first strike paid off as the tourists removed openers Michael Vandort and Upul Tharanga quickly.
Left-arm seamer Ryan Sidebottom was lucky to claim Vandort leg-before for 18 in the 11th over as replays of umpire Asad Rauf’s decision showed the ball may have gone over the stumps.
Tharanga made 16 when Rauf ruled him leg-before off Harmison to leave Sri Lanka tottering on 44-2.
Hoggard, who missed the second Test in Colombo with a back injury, battled bravely in oppressive heat and humidity to concede just 48 runs in 13 overs.
Panesar ended the day with 0-25 from 11 overs and Sidebottom returned with 1-33 from 15 overs.
England left out off-spinner Graeme Swann from the 12 announced on Monday and went in with just one specialist slow bowler in Panesar.
Sri Lanka, who won the first Test in Kandy by 88 runs, awarded a Test cap to 26-year-old fast bowler Chanaka Welagedera and recalled all-rounder Dilshan.


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