Sangakkara stands firm against England

Southampton: Sri Lanka captain Kumar Sangakkara`s unbeaten 89 frustrated England`s bid for victory on the last day of the third and final Test on Monday.

Sri Lanka were 226 for four in their second innings in reply to England`s first innings 377 for eight declared, a lead of 33 runs, at lunch on the fifth day of the first Test
ever staged at the Rose Bowl.

However, the new ball was available to England after one more over.

Sri Lanka went more than an hour and a quarter without losing a wicket on Monday thanks to determined batting by both Sangakkara, whose total was his Test-best in England, surpassing his 66 at Trent Bridge five years ago, and fellow left-hander Rangana Herath.

But, nightwatchman Herath`s gutsy innings of 36, an effort spanning more than 90 minutes, finally came to an end when he was lbw on the back foot to off-spinner Graeme Swann after missing a sweep.

His exit ended a determined fourth-wicket stand of 75 that took Sri Lanka to within sight of a lead but Herath was the only man out in the session, with Thilan Samaraweera 26 not out at lunch.

Sri Lanka resumed on 112 for three, 81 runs behind, with England chasing a victory that would give them this three-match series 2-0.

Sangakkara, leading the side in the absence of the injured Tillakaratne Dilshan after giving up the captaincy following Sri Lanka`s World Cup final defeat by India in
April, was 44 not out.

He found himself trying to steer his team to safety in overcast, seam bowler-friendly, conditions.

But Sangakkara, who averages over 55 in Tests, showed his class by cover-driving fast bowler Chris Tremlett for four in the first over.

James Anderson nearly dismissed Herath for five but England captain Andrew Strauss, at first slip, was distracted by Swann, moving across from second slip, and dropped the fast-travelling chance.

Sangakkarra then completed a 129-ball fifty when he on-drove Tremlett for the sixth four of his innings.

When first-change Stuart Broad came on, Herath, primarily a left-arm spinner, pulled him for a well-struck boundary. Broad later briefly left the field with a bruised left heel.

Herath, on 19, then survived an lbw appeal from Swann, with England opting against a review even though replays suggested it would have gone their way.

England had built a strong position by bowling Sri Lanka out for just 184 in the tourists` first innings, with Tremlett taking a Test-best six for 48.

They then replied with 377 for eight declared, a lead of 193, with Ian Bell making 119 not out -- his second century of the series following his unbeaten 103 in England`s innings and 14-run first Test win in Cardiff.

Victory for England -- in a match where 155 overs have been lost to rain -- would see them go joint-second alongside South Africa in the ICC Test rankings with only India, their next opponents, above them.


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