Cricket: De Silva steadies Sri Lanka

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The Independent Online
Sri Lanka 254-6 v Australia

RUSSEL ARNOLD and Aravinda de Silva hit half centuries to help Sri Lanka recover to 254 for 6 on a fluctuating opening day of the second Test against Australia here yesterday.

Arnold scored 50 and De Silva 64 as Sri Lanka rallied after losing their captain, Sanath Jayasuriya, to the first ball of the match - caught by Mark Waugh at second slip off Glenn McGrath - after he won the toss and decided to bat. Jayasuriya was the only batsman not to reach double figures on a pitch already taking spin.

His counterpart, Steve Waugh, played against doctors' advice after breaking his nose in a collision with Jason Gillespie during the six-wicket loss in the first Test last week. Despite pre-Test predictions that he would wear a helmet with a grille while fielding he did not and caught De Silva in the gulley.

Damien Fleming replaced Gillespie, who broke his leg in the collision, while Sri Lanka gave a first cap to the left-arm leg-spinner Rangana Herath, replacing Upul Chandana who failed to impress in Kandy.

Arnold and Marvan Atapattu steadied the innings with a second-wicket stand of 80 before Atapattu became the first of Shane Warne's three victims when he edged a catch behind to Ian Healy.

Arnold was the only man out in the afternoon session, caught at first slip by Warne off off-spinner Colin Miller for 50, having added just nine runs to his lunch score, with the total on 100. He was at the crease for 154 minutes, faced 126 balls and hit five fours.

De Silva and the vice-captain, Mahela Jayawardena, then added 65 for the fourth wicket but after tea Australia snapped up three quick wickets. Jayawardena fell for 46 when he lofted a catch to Greg Blewett off the bowling of Warne after the leg-spinner changed ends. Former captain Arjuna Ranatunga continued his run of poor form and was out for 10, caught by Miller at mid-on at the second attempt off Warne, while Fleming took the prize wicket of De Silva with the second new ball after batting for 213 minutes, hitting six fours and a six.

Waugh, with four broken bones in his nose, appeared in no discomfort in the field. "I feel fit," he said before the match. "My nose is still dry and congested. Breathing is still difficult."

Romesh Kaluwitharana and Chaminda Vaas prevented further collapse despite some fiery bowling by McGrath who hit Vaas on his arm and helmet.

Sri Lanka won toss; first day of five

SRI LANKA - First Innings

*S T Jayasuriya c M E Waugh

b McGrath 0

M A Atapattu c Healy b Warne 29

R P Arnold c Warne b Miller 50

P A de Silva c S R Waugh b Fleming 64

D P M Jayawardena c Blewett

b Warne 46

A Ranatunga c Miller b Warne 10

R S Kaluwitharana not out 24

W P U J C Vaas not out 14

Extras (b4 lb8 nb5) 17

Total (for 6, 95 overs) 254

Fall: 1-0 2-80 3-100 4-193 5-206 6-226.

To bat: D N T Zoysa, M Muralitharan, R Herath.

Bowling: McGrath 21-6-59-1 (nb4); Fleming 17-3-54-1 (nb1); Miller 23- 1-72-1; Warne 25-11-29-3; Ponting 4-1-7-0; M E Waugh 2-1-9-0; Blewett 3-0-12-0.

AUSTRALIA: G S Blewett, M J Slater, J L Langer, M E Waugh, R T Ponting, *S R Waugh, I A Healy, S K Warne, C R Miller, G D McGrath, D W Fleming.

Umpires: D Cowie (NZ) and B Cooray (Sri Lanka).