LONDON, Friday - Mario Villavarayen, the fourth seamer in the Sri Lanka team made Middlesex work hard for runs on the opening day of the 4-day tour match by capturing two wickets for no runs in eight balls at Lord's here today.
After acting captain Sanath Jayasuriya had decided to field first in overcast conditions, Sri Lanka playing three seamers along with Chandika Hathurusingha made use of the conditions to capture two Middlesex wickets for 83 by lunch.
Villavarayen taking over from the unsuccessful Ravindra Pushpakumara, prized out Richard Kettleborough for nine, removing his middle stump as the left-hander played on to the fourth delivery.
Seven balls later, David Nash going back to Villavarayen was ruled out leg before wicket for one to make Middlesex 40 for two.
David Goodchild, the other opener batted throughout the session surviving some good deliveries from Villvarayen and Chandika Hathurusingha to remain unbeaten on 33 with the assistance of four fours.
Paul Weekes, who joined him at the fall of Nash's wicket, was undefeated on 18 with three fours.
Villavarayen had the excellent figures of two for 11 in his six-over first spell.
Mark Ramprakash, the Middlesex captain withdrew on the morning of the match with a touch of tonsillitis. With the other England player Angus Fraser also sitting out, only left-arm spinner Phil Tuffnell, now out of Test contention and Australia's Justin Langer remain the Test players in the side.
Day 2: Atapattu century brightens up gloomy day
LONDON, August 1 - Sri Lanka Test opener Marvan Atapattu helped to brighten up a gloomy overcast day which had two interruptions for bad light and rain by completing his first hundred of the tour against Middlesex at Lord's here today. Propped by his knock of 114 Sri Lanka finished the second day of their 4-day tour match at 214 for four wickets, in reply to Middlesex's 313.
Touring batsmen consider scoring a hundred at Lord's a rare privilege. Atapattu, couldn't have found a better occasion to get his first tour century, after narrowly missing out with 99 against Glamorgan at Cardiff a fortnight ago. Although he won't have his name painted on the dressing room panel, reserved for Test centuries and five-wicket hauls, his 161-ball innings will be one to remember in his chequered Sri Lanka career.
The right-handed opener went through two stoppages for rain before reaching the magical figures. shortly after rain had forced a second interruption to play leaving him eight runs shy of with a classic cover drive off off-spinner Keith Dutch. At the first stoppage, nine overs after lunch, Atpattu was on 67, and at the second, a further eight overs later, he was eight runs shy of a hundred.
Overall, Atapattu batted 196 minutes and stroked his way to 17 fours. He was eventually dismissed five overs from the close when he flicked a ball uppishly from Phil Tufnell to be caught in front of square leg. Atapattu shared in stands of 71 for the second wicket with Russel Arnold (20) and 84 for the third with Mahela Jayawardene who was undefeated on a stylish 38 with five fours at the close.
Tufnell also picked up the wicket of Kumara Dharmasena, sent as nightwatchman in the same over he dismissed Atapattu, to share the bowling honours with Chris Batt.
Acting captain Sanath Jayasuriya fell for 24 as Sri Lanka began chasing Middlesex's first innings total of 313. Jayasuriya and Marvan Atapattu put on 56 off 12.1 overs for the first wicket before the left-hander got an outside edge attempting to steer a delivery from Chris Batt and edged it to the two gullies stationed for the shot. Kettleborough knocked the ball up for Dutch to hold onto the catch. Jayasuriya batted impressively for 53 minutes hitting three fours before his dismissal 25 minutes before lunch.
Sri Lanka were made to wait for a further 45 minutes before capturing the last two Middlesex wickets for 31 runs. Former England spinner Phil Tufnell made 19 of them with two fours before providing fast-medium bowler Mario Villavarayen with his fourth wicket of the innings. Tufnell made 24, his highest score of the season when he went for his favourite square cut and was caught by Hathurusingha at point.
Suresh Perera, achieved the initial breakthrough in the seventh over of the morning when he trapped Chris Batt leg before for 11 to end a frustrating ninth wicket partnership of 32 with Tufnell. Villavarayen was the pick of the Sri Lankan bowlers and deserved his four wickets, bowling a steady line and making the batsmen play at every delivery. His final figures of 4 for 36 off 18.4 overs bear ample testimony of how well he bowled. Sri Lanka came back strongly in the final session of the first day to capture five wickets for 75 runs to reduce Middlesex from a threatening 202 for 3 to a rather modest 282 for 8 at the close.
Fast-medium bowlers Villavarayan and Ravindra Pushpakumara took three wickets apiece to help stage Sri Lanka's fightback after 21-year-old right-hander David Goodchild had scored a workmanlike maiden first-class century. Each of the bowlers had their moments of glory. Villavarayen took two wickets for no runs off eight balls to reduce Middlesex, put into bat first under overcast conditions by acting captain Sanath Jayasuriya, to 40 for 2 in the morning session. After Goodchild had restored the innings in partnerships of 89 for the third wicket with Paul Weekes and 73 for the fourth with Australian Test opener Justin Langer, Pushpakumara who had failed to impress in the morning, found his right line and length to pick up two quick wickets in the final session to redress the balance. Left-handers Weekes and Langer made 43 apiece and they both perished by edging the ball to wicket-keeper Romesh Kaluwitharana.
Goodchild, playing in only his fifth first-class innings (all of them have been at Lord's) surpassed his previous highest score of 83 (n.o.) against Yorkshire last weekend as he proceeded towards his maiden hundred. Showing great reserves of concentration and application, he reached three-figures with a single, but after hitting a four to celebrate that achievement, he was unfortunately run out by a bad call for a leg-bye by the county's acting captain Keith Brown. Goodchild struck 12 fours in his knock of 105 for which he consumed 266 balls and 355 minutes. His was one of five wickets Sri Lanka captured in the final session. Kumara Dharmasena was the only other successful bowler for Sri Lanka when he bowled Brown round his legs for 26 as he attempted a sweep shot.
Extras once again came into play prominently when Sri Lanka conceded a total of 42 (31 of them no-balls). In five matches on the tour so far, Sri Lanka have yielded a total of 247 extras of which 113 are no-balls (45.74%). An England and Wales Cricket Board (ECB) experimental rule is in force now where where no balls count as two runs in all matches played in England. Even if the rule was not implemented the percentage still cannot change. This is an area which coach Roy Dias has to really work hard on, ahead of the one-day triangular tournament against England and South Africa.
Day 3: Kalu lights up Lord's
From Sa'adi Thawfeeq
LONDON, Sunday - Romesh Kaluwitharana gave a dazzling batting display to alight a sparse Sunday crowd at Lord's reaching a half-century off 52 balls with 11 fours as Sri Lanka went ahead of the Middlesex first innings of 313 with only half their side out.
By lunch on the third day of the 4-day tour match, Sri Lanka had advanced from their overnight total of 214 for 4 to 352 for six wickets, to enjoy a first innings lead of 39 runs.
None of the Middlesex bowlers could contain the rampaging Kaluwitharana as he cut, drove, hooked and pulled his way to his first half-century of the tour in only 50 minutes. Former England spinner Phil Tufnell came for some harsh treatment from Kaluwitharana as he twice hit him for two fours in an over, one of which took Sri Lanka past the Middlesex total in the 79th over.
Kaluwitharana was so much in command that he outscored Mahela Jayewardene in a sixth wicket partnership that realised 97 off 111 balls. The little wicket-keeper playing only his second match of the tour had only five singles reaching his fifty which came off a swept four off spinner Keith Dutch.
At lunch he was undefeated on 72 with 14 fours and looking good for a century. Chandika Hathurusingha was unbeaten on 12. Sri Lanka lost the wickets of Hashan Tillekeratne and Jayewardene as they continued their reply to Middlesex's first innings total on the third day.
Left-hander Tillekeratne added only ten to his overnight total of one, when he mistimed a drive off Tufnell to be caught at short mid-on.
Kaluwitharana joined Jayewardene to flay the bowling to all parts of the ground. Jayewardene unbeaten on 38 overnight, completed his first tour fifty in 129 minutes off 95 balls with six fours, and continued to bat with confidence until the arrival of the second new ball after 80 overs.
He made 79 in 205 minutes with 10 fours before edging a catch to wicket-keeper David Nash off a delivery from Tim Bloomfield which left him.
Sri Lanka scored 138 runs off 34 overs in the 135-minute morning session, with Kaluwitharana contributing more than fifty percent of them.
Day 4: Bad weather stalls Lanka's push for victory
LONDON, Sunday - Sri Lanka's chances of pressing for a win over Middlesex was held up by bad weather which allowed only nine balls in the morning session of the fourth and final day of their tour match at Lord's here today.
In that brief period of time, Sri Lanka captured a further wicket without any addition to the overnight score to make Middlesex 123 for four. The weather forecast is not good and it is quite optimistic that there would be any play for the rest of the day. Light rain under heavy overcast skies was falling when the players came off. The start was also delayed by 55 minutes and 13 overs lopped off.
Fast-medium bowler Suresh Perera picked up the solitary wicket when he sent the off-stump of nightwatchman Richard Johnson cartwheeling when he played down the wrong line. Sri Lanka gave themselves an outside chance of beating Middlesex when they captured three wickets for 123 by the end of the third day.
Having gained a useful first innings lead of 111, Sri Lanka managed to prize out the first three Middlesex batsmen in the second innings to leave the county only 12 runs ahead with seven wickets in hand.
Inspired bowling by the inconsistent Ravindra Pushpakumara and the persevering Mario Villavarayen have placed Sri Lanka in this position, in this their final first-class fixture before they gear themselves to play a series of four one-day matches in preparation for the one-day triangular against South Africa and England starting on August 14.
Pushpakumara who mixes good spells of bowling with some wayward ones, took two wickets, both leg before victims. First innings century-maker David Goodchild fell to a delivery that kept low to beat his bat for six and David Nash, was dismissed three overs before the close for 42 to an inswinger that came in sharply.
Villavarayen took the wicket of Richard Kettleborough for 38 when he top edged a hook to Romesh Kaluwitharana. Kettleborough got a reprieve at 34 when umpire Paul Adams revoked a decision for a catch after consultation with leg umpire Barry Leadbeater.
Hashan Tillekeratne claimed a catch at gully after Kettleborough had played the ball firmly on to the ground off Kumara Dharmasena. Adams initially gave the batsman out, and the fielder was being congratulated with high fives from his team mates when Adams, on second thought, decided to consult his colleague and recall the batsman.
The Sri Lankan reply to the Middlesex first innings of 313, was a massive 424, the third time they have gone past the 400-run mark in four first-class matches on the tour.
Romesh Kaluwitharana and Mahela Jayawardene scored contrasting first half-centuries on the tour to enable Sri Lanka pass the Middlesex total in the 79th over. While Kaluwitharana blasted the hapless county bowlers to all parts of the ground smashing 14 fours in an entertaining 84-ball knock of 73, Jayewardene batted with great composure to make a stylish 79 in 205 minutes with 10 fours. The pair put on 97 for the sixth wicket, and after their departure the tail wagged strongly to add a further 90 runs before they were finally dismissed, 30 minutes before tea.
Left-arm fast-medium bowler Chris Batt had the best figures with 4 for 103, while former England spinner Phil Tufnell took 3 for 90.
Day 4 more: Middlesex force a draw
LONDON, Tuesday - Sri Lanka were forced to draw their 4-day tour match against Middlesex at Lord's here yesterday due to intermittent rain which lopped off 40 overs and a further 15, when the two captains decided to call of the match after the completion of just one mandatory over.
Play in the morning session was restricted to just nine balls and there were two further lengthy interruptions after lunch and another after tea, which put the contest out of Sri Lanka's reach as they pressed hard for a win.
Middlesex who began the fourth and final day with only a 11-run lead and seven wickets in hand, eventually finished 120 runs ahead with three second innings wickets intact. When the players came off for the last time in the match, Middlesex were 231 for seven wickets. They made 313 in the first innings to which Sri Lanka replied with 424. Only 41 overs were bowled on the final day during which period Middlesex added 108 runs to their overnight total of 123 for 3. In between showers, Ravindra Pushpakumara, Chandika Hathurusingha and Suresh Perera picked up wickets, but Middlesex survived with some dogged resistance from Paul Weekes, who made 49 in 165 minutes and acting captain Keith Brown, who was unbeaten on 40 scored in 138 minutes.
None of the Middlesex batsmen could forge a partnership of substance as their concentration was broken frequently by the stoppages for rain.
David Goodchild won the Vodafone 500 pounds sterling Man-of-the-Match award for his maiden first-class century in the Middlesex first innings. This match completed Sri Lanka's first leg of first-class matches on the tour. They played four, won one (Leicestershire), lost one (Glamorgan), and drew two (Somerset, Middlesex). Sri Lanka's next four fixtures are one-day limited-over contests against an ECB XI at Lakenham on Wednesday followed by two matches against Northamptonshire at Northampton on August 7 and 9, and one against Kent at Canterbury on August 11, before they meet South Africa in the opening match of the Triangular tournament at Trent Bridge on August 14.