Cricket: Weekes stands firm to earn draw

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Middlesex 313 and 231-7 Sri Lanka 424 Match drawn

PAUL WEEKES' defiance earned Middlesex a draw against Sri Lanka on a rain-ruined final day of the Vodafone Challenge match at Lord's yesterday.

Rain and bad light reduced the action to 41 overs and Weekes' 49 led to the captains agreeing a draw with just under an hour of the match remaining.

Weekes produced the shot of a frustrating day when he square drove Chandika Hathurusinghe for four. But he denied himself a merited half century when he lofted the same bowler into Kumara Dharmasena's hands at square leg.

Weekes' 127-ball innings and a couple of dropped catches spared Middlesex probable defeat. The captain, Keith Brown, had been missed by wicketkeeper Romesh Kaluwitharana with the score at 212 for 7, and Chris Batt was dropped by the captain, Sanath Jayasuriya, at second slip with two runs added.

If both opportunities had been snapped up Middlesex would have faced a fight to save the game with Sri Lanka chasing a victory target of just over 100 in the final hour. On both occasions the unfortunate bowler was Hathurusinghe, who deserved better figures than his 2 for 62 from 22 overs.

A halt was finally called with Middlesex 231 for 7, Brown finishing unbeaten on 40 and Batt 18 not out.

Play had begun 50 minutes late and delays after lunch and tea meant the prospects of a result were always minimal.

Middlesex, resuming 12 ahead at 123 for 3, lost the nightwatchman Richard Johnson for four when his off stump was removed by Suresh Perera without addition to the overnight score.

Justin Langer fell victim to a brilliant tumbling Kaluwitharana catch off Ravindra Pushpakumara, who finished with an impressive 3 for 52 off 18 overs.

At 201, Keith Dutch played on, trying to cut a ball of too full a length from Hathurusinghe, leaving Brown and Batt to deny the Sri Lankans with an unbroken eighth-wicket partnership which was eventually worth 30.

Middlesex claimed the man of the match award, the opener David Goodchild winning the vote for his first-innings 105.