Cricket: De Saram in control

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A POLISHED 75 from Indika de Saram led Sri Lanka A to a five-wicket triumph over a weakened Gloucestershire at Cheltenham yesterday. The county side rested six of the team who had beaten Yorkshire in the National League on Sunday and their 50-over score of 189 for 8 never looked sufficient, even allowing for some occasional low bounce in the pitch.

Dominic Hewson's 64 and Martyn Ball's 51 gave the Gloucestershire innings some respectability after it had crumbled to 40 for 6 in the 18th over. But, after some early problems of their own, Sri Lanka A reached their target with seven overs to spare, thanks largely to De Saram's 86-ball innings, which contained 10 fours. He was caught at deep midwicket by Bobby Dawson with victory in sight. The win was completed by Chamara Silva and Nimesh Perera, who finished unbeaten on 38 and 14 respectively.

It was the fourth victory in five matches for the tourists and a welcome boost for them after a comprehensive defeat in their four-day match with Northamptonshire.

Indika Gallage and Mario Villavarayen laid the foundations for victory with some excellent new-ball bowling after Ball, the acting Gloucestershire captain, had elected to bat first. Gallage had Tim Hancock caught at slip and bowled Matthew Windows in his initial burst, before returning later to have Hewson caught at point to finish with a return of 3 for 42. Villavarayan moved deliveries off the seam to bowl Bobby Dawson and Jeremy Snape, while Gloucestershire's cause was not helped by the run out of Mark Hardinges.

James Whitaker, Leicestershire's 37-year-old captain, has been forced to retire as a player because of a serious knee injury.