Test Cricket / England's pace trio summon extra resolve: Stewart's sterling work in the field limits damage as Sri Lanka take first-innings lead

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England . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .380

Sri Lanka . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .408-8

THE England fast bowling trio of Chris Lewis, Paul Jarvis and Devon Malcolm gave an impressive display of endurance and heart in the Test against Sri Lanka here yesterday on a day they might justifiably have expected to spend mooching around at long-on watching the spinners twirling away.

For a time they did, but so much energy was expended on fetching a ball which defiantly refused to spin that Alec Stewart decided to cut out the middle man and let them deal with the batsmen direct. Armed with a new ball, they did so to such effect that England are just about hanging in there.

From 330 for 3 with Aravinda de Silva and Arjuna Ranatunga romping along, Sri Lanka lost five wickets for 46 runs. This was on a par with England's effort the previous day - except that was to spin. The problem, as Keith Fletcher admitted afterwards, is that 'it is like playing on two totally different pitches depending whether their spinners are on it or ours'.

After today's rest day, England should be more concerned with ensuring they do not lose than with setting up a victory, a plan Stewart suggested was already being sketched out when he said: 'Obviously we want to take the two wickets early, then we have to bat sensibly. We have got to get stuck in like a few did in the first innings.'

Stewart himself had a good day. He kept England at it in the field where they were sharp throughout and had a hand in the first four dismissals, taking three catches, including a very good diving one, and a smart stumping off Phil Tufnell.

Two wickets came in a morning session played in such steaming heat that most Sri Lankans stayed home. Since the ground has limited shade, that meant the day opened in front of a silent crowd of visiting supporters, creating an atmosphere one player likened to Honor Oak against Dulwich.

Stewart's first and best catch, which came in the ninth over of the day, was the ideal standard- setter. Lewis got one to leave Chandika Hathurusinghe and the captain dived low to his right to make a difficult take. Asanka Gurusinha, the only batsman in Sri Lanka's top six not to make a half-century, then went after Tufnell in such exaggerated fashion he was stumped, more because he was still bringing his bat down from the stratosphere than for being too far down the wicket.

They were England's only successes for well more than two hours as Sri Lanka's most experienced pair tucked in. John Emburey and Tufnell went for sixes over midwicket and the new ball was taken just in time to prevent the old one being lost somewhere in Greater Colombo.

In its first over, Ranatunga slashed Malcolm just over gully, in the second Graeme Hick got his fingers to a De Silva edge off Jarvis. De Silva escaped again, off Malcolm to Stewart, before being taken down the leg side by the wicketkeeper in the over before tea.

By now it was headbands v helmets and the headbands were winning. Lewis got another to move away, giving Stewart a straightforward catch off Ranatunga, then Sanath Jayasuriya was superbly caught by Michael Atherton leaping one-handed at point. Emburey induced a bat-pad catch from Ashley de Silva and Champaka Ramanayake was well caught by Lewis.

So far so good but, just as Atherton and Smith were mentally padding up, England ran up against Hashan Tillakaratne.

England confessed themselves pleased with yesterday: 'A very good day,' Stewart said. How expectations change. He cannot ever have believed back in December he would be saying that after conceding a first-innings lead to Sri Lanka.

COLOMBO SCOREBOARD

(Third day: England won toss)

ENGLAND - First Innings 380 (R A Smith 128, G A Hick 68, A J Stewart 63).

SRI LANKA - First Innings

(Overnight: 140 for 1)

U C Hathurusinghe c Stewart b Lewis. . . . . . . . . . . .59

(195 min, 146 balls, 8 fours)

A P Gurusinha st Stewart b Tufnell . . . . . . . . . . . .43

(159 min, 124 balls, 5 fours)

P A De Silva c Stewart b Jarvis. . . . . . . . . . . . . .80

(205 min, 148 balls, 6 fours, 2 sixes)

* A Ranatunga c Stewart b Lewis. . . . . . . . . . . . . .64

(167 min, 119 balls, 6 fours, 1 six)

H P Tillakaratne not out. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 51

(158 min, 101 balls, 6 fours)

S T Jayasuriya c Atherton b Lewis. . . . . . . . . . . . . 4

(15 min, 8 balls, 1 four)

] A M De Silva c Gatting b Emburey. . . . . . . . . . . . .9

(46 min, 28 balls, 1 four)

C P H Ramanayake c Lewis b Jarvis. . . . . . . . . . . . . 1

(13 min, 13 balls)

M Muralitharan not out. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 7

(46 min, 24 balls)

Extras (b2 lb12 w1 nb11). . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .26

Total (for 8, 562 min, 130 overs). . . . . . . . . . . . .408

Fall (cont): 2-153 (Hathurusinghe), 3-203 (Gurusinha), 4-330 (P A De Silva), 5-339 (Ranatunga), 6-349 (Jayasuriya), 7-371 (A M De Silva), 8-376 (Ramanayake).

To bat: K P J Warnaweera.

Bowling: Malcolm 19-6-45-0 (nb1) (5-3-9-0, 2-0-7-0, 10-2-26-0, 2-1-3-0); Jarvis 22-1-68-2 (nb4 w1) (6-0-26-0, 5-0-13-0, 4-0-16-1, 1-0-2-0, 6-1-11-1); Lewis 24-4-53-3 (nb2) (5-0-18-0, 6-1- 9-1, 3-0-8-0, 7-3-9-2, 3-0-9-0); Tufnell 30-4- 106-1 (nb7) (10-0-43-0, 3-1-7-0, 17-3-56-1); Emburey 27-5-95-2 (nb1) (7-1-22-1, 11-3-38-0, 2-1-5-0, 6-0-25-1, 1-0-5-0); Hick 8-0-27-0 (1-0- 1-0, 7-0-26-0).

Progress: Third day: 150: 188 min, 46 overs. 200: 258 min, 62.1 overs. Lunch: 219-3 (P A De Silva 29, Ranatunga 11) in 70 overs. 250: 319 min, 78.4 overs. New ball: 297-3 off 90 overs. 300: 363 min, 90.2 overs. Tea: 330-4 (Ranatunga 61, Tillakaratne 0) in 98 overs. 350: 454 min, 107.2 overs. 400: 548 min, 127.1 overs.

De Silva's 50: 118 min, 85 balls, 4 fours, 2 sixes. Ranatunga's 50: 95 min, 78 balls, 5 fours, 1 six. Tillakaratne's 50: 150 min, 96 fours, 6 sixes.

Umpires: K T Francis and T M Samarasinghe.

(Photograph omitted)

Australia humbled, page 31

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