Cricket: Dilshan typifies tourists' resolve

Surrey 322 & 182 Sri Lanka A 232 & 251 Surrey win by 21 runs

THIS SRI Lanka A side is a tough outfit, prepared to shoot it out with the best of them, and on their tour to date they have run up against some hard hombres. Not least of those has been the side put out by the Championship leaders, Surrey, which inflicted a second defeat on the tourists, although not by a great margin.

The tourists' manager, Stanley Jayasinghe, admitted: "This has been a stiffer tour than I anticipated. I thought because many of our fellows were so raw that the England and Wales Cricket Board might be sympathetic and give us a fixture list with teams of more limited strength." But he was not complaining. Indeed he is pleased with the way his charges, average age 21, have been standing up to the demands of a far-from-easy series of matches.

It doesn't get any easier. After a brief trip to Denmark later this week they return for another four-day match against Worcestershire next Tuesday, followed by a one-day game at Sussex before tackling an MCC side bristling with overseas talent. "That looks like a good team," Jayasinghe said. "There are several international players in it and it will be a good test."

The MCC team, led by Andy Flower, the Zimbabwe wicketkeeper, also contains his international colleagues Paul Strang and all-rounder Neil Johnson, as well as Reon King, the West Indies Test fast bowler. That match, at Shenley Park beginning on 17 August, rounds off their tour.

They will have derived much satisfaction from yesterday's performance. At one point, when Tuwan Dilshan was driving confidently towards his century (his second of the tour) they looked as if they might even win, but cricket life is not like that.

Surrey played a couple of greenhorns of their own, in Carl Greenidge and Gareth Batty. The pace bowler Greenidge came creditably through his first-class debut, not overstraining for speed and generally finding control; he gave the impression that there was plenty of gas left in his powerful frame.

Ben Hollioake also looked sharp. He had not bowled first time around, so by the time he came on in the middle of a humid morning he must have been champing at the bit. Like Greenidge, he claimed three wickets and appeared to be bowling well within himself, probably because of the strength- sapping conditions.

The off-spinner Batty, making his first-class debut for Surrey, showed fine control, troubling the batsmen with bounce and turn and was rewarded with two wickets from 16 impressively economical overs.

Jason Ratcliffe, while not matching his career best 6 for 48 of the previous innings, still made an early breakthrough after lunch which did not help the tourists' cause. The chase for the 273 runs needed for victory stuttered further shortly before tea when Ben Hollioake picked up two wickets in 10 balls, including that of Dilshan after four hours at the crease, and the run-out of captain Naveed Nawaz. Greenidge wrapped it up shortly after the interval.

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