Sri Lanka make steady start against England

Rex Clementine reporting from Galle
Sri Lanka made steady progress by lunch on the first day of the first Test Match here at the Galle International Cricket stadium with openers Sanath Jayasuriya and Marvan Atapattu seeing off England’s new ball bowlers without losing their wickets. As expected, Sri Lankan skipper Hashan Tillakaratne decided to bat first after winning the toss.

Medium paceman Dinusha Fernando (aged 24) made his Test debut along with Paul Colingwood (aged 26) of England. While Fernando’s debut was expected, Colingwood’s was a surprise. England decided to play the middle order batsman from Durham after they found out that Nasser Hussain had a viral infection. "Nasser was going to play the game and we decided against it only at the last moment. At about 10 o’clock this morning we decided to leave him out after consultation with the doctor. He’s back at the hotel resting," Mark Hodgson, the spokesman of the English cricket team said.

The match was delayed by 30 minutes due to the sogginess of certain sections of the ground.

The Sri Lankan openers played cautiously in the first two hours of the match. The occasional delivery that bounced a bit did worry both Jayasuriya and Atapattu. Particularly Andrew Flintoff extracted considerable bounce and to a lesser degree Mathew Hoggard’s deliveries too went pass the bat. Sri Lanka also had some anxious moments in the first session when Atapattu attempting to drive Flintoff in the 15th over failed to keep the ball down, but fortunately for him, the ball fell just short of a diving Flintoff.

Earlier in Flintoff’s very first over he managed to find the edge of Atapattu’s bat, however, the ball was just short of Graham Thorpe at second slip.


Sri Lanka 1st innings:

M. Atapattu not out 18

S. Jayasuriya not out 26

Extras (nb1, w1) 2

Total (for no loss) 46

Bowling: Hoggard 6-1-15-0, Johnson 6-2-16-0, Flintoff 5-3-5-0, Collingwood 2-0-9-0, Batty 2-1-1-0. Overs: 21

Toss: Sri Lanka

Umpires: Srinivas Venkatraghavan (IND) and Darryl Harper (AUS)

TV Umpire: Gamini Silva (SRI)

Match referee: Clive Lloyd (WIS)