England toil as Stuart Broad returns


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The Independent Online

England suffered at the hands of centurion Chamara Silva on day one of their final pre-Test warm-up against a Sri Lankan Development XI.

Having rolled a Board XI for 169 and 119 in their previous tour match, this was England's first real day of toil in the scorching island heat and Silva made them feel it with a superb 163 in his side's imposing 376 for five.

And while they were missing first-choice bowlers James Anderson and Monty Panesar - both rested alongside Alastair Cook - this will have focused English minds on their meeting with Mahela Jayawardene and Kumar Sangakkara in Galle on March 26.

Their spinners, in particular, failed to shine, with Graeme Swann bowling 21 wicketless overs for 102 and Samit Patel returning one for 83.

It was a gruelling challenge for the England attack on a day so stifling that Matt Prior kept wicket for long periods without pads.

The day had started with good news as Stuart Broad was passed fit following a sprained ankle and went on to remove both openers.

England lost the toss but it took Broad just four balls to register his first wicket of the tour, former Test batsman Malinda Warnapura lifting a full delivery straight to Ravi Bopara at mid-off.

Broad then accounted Dilshan Munaweera in his fifth over, the opener clean bowled for 19.

Silva was looking more composed and found an able sidekick in Thilina Kandamby.

England turned to Swann's spin after 15 overs but Sri Lanka were quick to get after him.

His first ball was swept for four by Silva, who then lifted him for a straight six.

Kandamby also got into the act, first edging the spinner for four and then hitting six over long-off as Swann's first three overs cost 25.

The hosts reached lunch at 103 for two, with 58 of those from Silva.

Broad had a quiet three-over spell at the start of the afternoon's play, but Swann was still leaking more runs than he would like.

Kandamby began to open up against Steven Finn, taking fours either side of point and getting lucky when he inside-edged a slower ball for another boundary.

Patel became England's sixth bowler after Bresnan and Ravi Bopara had been tried, taking over from the ineffective Swann.

It took him until his seventh over but the Nottinghamshire all-rounder was eventually able to make a much-needed breakthrough.

He managed to turn one in from the rough to bowl Kandamby for 64 and end a 151-run stand that had started to wear England down.

New man Angelo Perera was keen to keep England on the back foot and got off the mark with six off Patel, who Silva drove down the ground to bring up a well-deserved century in 134 balls.

Four more followed over extra-cover off Patel's next ball as a tough session closed with the Development XI on 223 for three.

Silva almost gave away his wicket after the restart when he lobbed Swann towards long-on, but the ball stopped short and he was soon controlling England's spinners again.

Broad, meanwhile, managed four overs in his third spell despite looking just short of full fitness.

Silva was looking irresistible now, taking successive fours off Patel to reach 150 - one a flourish over cover, the next a deft reverse sweep.

His third 50 took just 40 deliveries.

There were also consecutive boundaries off Finn, one a half chance in the deep, before he was caught at fine-leg hooking.

Finn proceeded to give the batsman a send off, though with 163 to his name it was clear who had the last laugh.

Swann's rough day continued in the final hour as Perera hoisted him for two huge sixes on his way to a care-free half-century.

Kushal Janith also had some fun against a flagging attack, with six fours in his 35, before Broad had him lbw with the first delivery of the new ball.

At stumps Perera had 61no, with Kaushal Lokuarachchi 22no.