KANDY, Sri Lanka, AFP
England squared the three-Test series against Sri Lanka when they won the second cricket Test by three wickets, shortly after lunch on the fifth and final day here Sunday. Chasing a victory target of 161, England lost three wickets in the morning session to go to lunch at 152 for seven.
But the eighth wicket pair of Craig White and Ashley Giles held their nerve against some testing bowling by the Sri Lankan spinners to knock off the remaining runs. White made the winning hit a cover drive off Sanath Jayasuriya and ran a single to signal the victory for England. White was unbeaten on 21 and Giles on four. Sri Lanka made 297 and 250 and England replied with 387 and 161 for seven. Sri Lanka won the first Test at Galle by an innings and 28 runs and both teams now go to the third and final Test beginning at the Singhalese SC grounds on March 15 level at one-all. Chaminda Vaas achieved the breakthrough for Sri Lanka when England resumed at their overnight total of 91 for four by having Alec Stewart lbw in the sixth over for seven. A stand of 25 runs followed between nightwatchman Robert Croft and Graeme Hick which took England to 122. Hick was missed by wicket-keeper Kumar Sangakkara off Vaas at four when he got an inside edge on a drive. But Hick, who was uncomfortable against spin, finally succumbed to Sanath Jayasuriya, who bowled him for 16. Croft’s 113-minute resistance for 17 runs was ended at 142 when he was ruled out lbw attempting to sweep a staight ball from Kumar Dharmasena. Vaas finished with figures of four for 39. England fast bowler Darren Gough was named man-of-the-match for his match bag of eight wickets for 123 runs. The Test was marred by several umpiring controversies. Sri Lanka captain Sanath Jayasuriya was fined 60 percent of his match fee and received a suspended sentence of two Tests and two one-day internationals for showing dissent over his dismissal in the second innings. Sri Lanka umpire B.C. Cooray who was at the centre of controversy ruled Jayasuriya caught after he had hit the ball on the ground. Several other bat pad and leg before decisions also went against both sides.