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Somerset v Sri Lanka at Taunton

Reports from The Electronic Telegraph

14-16 July 1998

Day 1: Parsons tortures tourists

By David Green at Taunton

First day of three: Sri Lankans (8-2) trail Somerset (366-6 dec) by 358

SRI LANKA, whose one-day match against Hampshire on Sunday was washed out, began their tour in earnest at Taunton where Somerset, having won the toss, took advantage of a firm, true pitch and a fast outfield.

Marcus Trescothick led the way with a rumbustious 95, putting on 118 for the third wicket with Mark Lathwell contributing 56. Then the unsung Keith Parsons made 101 not out, adding 126 for the sixth wicket with Adrian Pierson.

Sri Lanka's bowling, lacking Chaminda Vaas and Nuwan Zoysa, who were unable to tour owing to injury, looked underpowered. Primodya Wickramasinghe was by some distance their most effective bowler, and despite some early problems with his direction in a gusty wind, he improved markedly to bowl a number of testing spells.

Wickramasinghe was slightly fortunate to have the in-form Peter Bowler caught behind down the leg side but Chadika Hathurusinghe was unlucky when Trescothick, on 20 and 28, was missed at the wicket and by first slip Hashan Tillekeratne.

Wickramasinghe had Richard Harden caught behind by Romesh Kaluwitharana, but Trescothick and Lathwell went on to maintain a scoring rate of four per over.

Wickramasinghe broke the stand when Lathwell edged a forcing back stroke. Then Trescothick played on to Kumara Dharmasena and Michael Burns played over one from Niroshan Bandaratilake.

Parsons gave no chance and reached his century with his 16th boundary. Somerset's declaration was rewarded with the wickets of Sanath Jayasuriya, who trod on his stumps, and Russel Arnold, caught at slip.

Day 2: Arnold helps Sri Lanka regain pride

By David Green at Taunton

Second day of four: Sri Lanka (130 & 243-3) lead Somerset (366-6 dec) by 7 runs

SRI LANKA, following on 236 runs behind on a good pitch, responded in typically aggressive style as Russel Arnold, an elegant left-hander, made a glittering unbeaten 115, with attractive innings also coming from Marvan Atapattu and Hashan Tillakaratne.

Somerset, though resting senior bowlers Andrew Caddick, Graham Rose and Mushtaq Ahmed, limited Sri Lanka's first innings to 130, with young seamers Matthew Bulbeck and Ben Trott leading the way.

A cloudy, humid atmosphere helped the ball to swing all day and Sri Lanka, eight for two overnight, soon lost Atapattu to Bulbeck, the left-hander angling one across the batsman then dipping one in to have him lbw.

Nightwatchman Niroshan Bandaratilleke was caught behind down the leg side two balls later, and when Trott yorked Romesh Kaluwitharana and Steffan Jones had Chandika Hathurusinghe neatly caught at slip Sri Lanka were in trouble at 68 for seven.

Tillakaratne, who batted doggedly for an unbeaten 38 in this innings, dug in solidly and with help from Kumara Dharmasena and the hard-hitting Primodya Wickramasinghe the last three wickets came close to doubling the tourists' score.

When Sri Lanka batted again, Sanath Jayasuriya avoided a pair with a first-over boundary off Bulbeck who had his revenge soon afterwards with an lbw decision. Undeterred, Atapattu and Arnold attacked the bowling with a volley of wristy strokes.

The pair had rattled up 85 in only 14 overs when Keith Parsons thought he had caught Arnold at midwicket. Arnold and umpire Roy Palmer did not think the ball had carried.

The ball, which had been flung away, was ignored and the batsmen took a single. Next ball, Bulbeck gave Atapattu a bouncer which the batsman, his concentration possibly disturbed, pulled straight to midwicket.

Day 3: Somerset frustrated by Arnold

By David Green at Taunton

Somerset (366-6dec & 177-7) drew with Sri Lanka (130 & 483-6dec)

WHEN Somerset made Sri Lanka follow on 236 runs adrift, they had high hopes of claiming the 11,000 win bonus from sponsors Vodafone but, inspired by Russel Arnold's brilliant 209, Sri Lanka fought back strongly.

Indeed, Sanath Jayasuriya was able to declare, asking Somerset to make 248 to win in 37 overs. Despite Peter Bowler's attractive 66, wickets fell regularly and Sri Lanka were pressing for victory at the end.

When the tourists resumed their second innings yesterday morning at 243 for three, just seven runs ahead, defeat was still a real possibility. But Arnold, 115 not out overnight, timed the ball beautifully once again and was in complete command.

Elegant and orthodox, he eased shots through the off side and wide of mid-on with languid mastery against bowling which, though lacking in experience, was enthusiastic and persistent and also supported by good fielding.

Boundaries flowed from the young left-hander's bat and when he finally edged Marcus Trescothick low to first slip, he had hit 37 of them, facing 270 balls in three hours and 20 minutes at the crease.

The Sri Lankan view of Arnold is that at present he can be too easily contained. The quality of his timing and placing make this hard to credit so it will be interesting to see him against sterner opposition.

Somerset's run chase began poorly with Michael Burns, Richard Harden and Mark Lathwell all holing out. However, Bowler, in company first with Keith Parsons then with Trescothick, brought his side back into the match.

Trescothick was run out seeking an unlikely single and when Bowler followed suit four overs later, Somerset shut up shop. The UKP 500 man-of-the-match award went, not surprisingly, to Arnold.

Source: The Electronic Telegraph
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Date-stamped : 17 Jul1998 - 10:15