England beaten by Sri Lanka despite Jonathan Trott century

 

England's miserable start to 2012 continued as they lost the first Test to Sri Lanka by 75 runs in Galle.

They have now lost all four Tests since the turn of the year, with Sri Lanka's spinners picking up where their Pakistani counterparts left off in the United Arab Emirates.

Rangana Herath, who took 12 wickets in the match, and Suraj Randiv accounted for all 10 of England's batsmen in the second innings, which fell well short of an imposing target of 340 despite the best efforts of Jonathan Trott.

He scored a gutsy 112, his seventh Test ton, but only Matt Prior, with 41, offered significant support as they were bowled out for 264.

In total 18 of England's 20 wickets in this match fell to Herath and Randiv and their technique against the slow bowlers is sure to come under fierce scrutiny when the post mortems begin.

Trott, 40 not out overnight, sent the third ball of the morning through the off-side for four but Kevin Pietersen looked troubled from the off.

He gave Suranga Lakmal the sniff of a caught and bowled chance and had added just a single to his overnight score of 29 when he fell to Randiv in the third over.

His shot was a grim reprise of Andrew Strauss' dismissal yesterday, down the track and hitting a turning ball straight to mid-wicket, where Mahela Jayawardene held on.

It was a hammer blow for England and Pietersen, who took an age to set off for the pavilion.

Trott, meanwhile, produced a neat reverse sweep to bring up his fifty and Ian Bell got going with a lofted four off Randiv.

After 12 overs, Jayawardene sent for Herath, who took six first-innings wickets and dismissed both openers last night.

Trott and Bell were doing a decent job of neutralising the nervous energy created by Pietersen's dismissal, only for Trott to send a leading edge straight back to Herath on 62.

It was a catchable height but the bowler grassed it.

England's luck did not hold, with Herath winning an lbw verdict against Bell with the score at 152.

The batsman immediately reviewed the decision, with the suspicion of an edge, but replays were not conclusive enough to reprieve him.

Prior settled quickly and England reached 177 for four at lunch.

The fifth-wicket pair looked to work the singles after returning for the afternoon's play and Sri Lanka's in-out field allowed them to do so.

The England 200 was quickly followed by the fifty partnership, which took 127 balls.

After 10 trouble-free overs after lunch, Jayawardene took the new ball.

The returning Lakmal leaked eight from his second over with it, including a rare boundary as Prior crashed one through cover.

Chanaka Welegedara was also taken for eight as he returned to the attack, with England's scoring rate spiking and their opponents beginning to flag.

Trott brought up his century by sweeping Herath for four, ending a sequence of 18 singles and celebrating lavishly in front of the Barmy Army stronghold on the Galle Fort.

Four balls later it was home fans in raptures as Prior swept Herath hard towards short-leg, where Lahiru Thirimanne clung on after absorbing the impact with his body.

Having contributed 41 in 88 balls, his scalp was a key one.

That brought debutante Samit Patel to the crease for his second Test innings. With 107 still to get and just two to his name in his first attempt, the tension was stifling.

The large English contingent, largely hushed in the morning session, began to count off the landmarks with large cheers - a roar as the target dipped into double figures and another for the 250th run.

Once again, a wicket derailed their fun.

Patel was the man to go, for nine, clearing his front foot and picking out Tillakaratne Dilshan at short extra-cover.

He juggled the chance initially, only to snare the ball one-handed at the second attempt and hand Herath his second five-wicket haul of the match.

England's prospects were firmly on Trott's shoulders now but he was gone in the next over, turning Randiv to Dilshan at leg-slip.

His five-and-a-half hour knock was a superb effort in trying circumstances but it appeared certain to be in a losing cause.

Graeme Swann lasted only nine balls before the now inevitable Herath lbw arrived, with Randiv seeing off James Anderson and Monty Panesar with successive deliveries after tea to seal the victory.

PA

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