Sangakkara saves Sri Lanka

Samaraweera plays his part with unbeaten 87 before rain arrives

By Rob Lancaster.   Last Updated: 20/06/11 8:35pm

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England had to settle for a 1-0 series win over Sri Lanka after the combination of bad weather and a century by Kumar Sangakkara helped save the tourists on the final day of the third Test.

Stand-in skipper Sangakkara, who had to be persuaded to return to the job to replace the injured Tillarkaratne Dilshan, made his first Test hundred on English soil to help take his side to 334-5.

Thilan Samaraweera weighed in with unbeaten 87 as Sri Lanka reached tea with a substantial - but not quite match-saving - lead of 141.

However any hopes of a thrilling final session were dashed by bad weather, heavy rain meaning no further play was possible after the interval.

Bowling concerns

While England still took the series thanks to their thrilling triumph in the opening game in Cardiff, the fact that they took just one wicket in each session will be a concern ahead of the arrival of India later in the summer.

There will also be worries over the fitness of two of their key bowlers - Stuart Broad, who is due to captain his country for the first time in the one-off Twenty20 International in Bristol on Saturday, was hampered by a bruised heel, while Chris Tremlett also needed treatment on the field.

The fully-fit James Anderson was the only one of the home seamers to strike during Monday's play, albeit by then Sangakkara had gone a long way to making the game safe.

The left-hander seemed as surprised as anyone when, on 119, he spooned a front-foot drive to substitute fielder Adam Rouse at point.

Such a meek mode of dismissal was in stark contrast to the rest of his 249-ball knock, one that had seen 16 boundaries mixed in with a rock-solid defensive approach built on leaving the ball, particularly on length.

His desire to reach three figures was perhaps understandable considering his top score during the Test leg of the tour had been 26, while his previous highest effort in England was 70.

Removing Sangakkara was hard enough but England even had their problems shifting nightwatchman Rangana Herath in the opening session.

Frustrated

The left-arm spinner managed to stick around for 72 deliveries, although he was missed by Andrew Strauss at first slip when the England skipper was put off by fellow catcher Graeme Swann moving into his line of sight.

Swann did eventually make amends by trapping Herath lbw for 36, his side's only breakthrough before lunch.

The out-of-sorts attack continued to struggle after the interval too, as Samaraweera combined with his temporary leader to share a partnership of 141 for the fifth wicket.

Sangakkara's departure with the score on 326 did raise a glimmer of hope again, but the weather soon extinguished it. Rain arrived on the stroke of tea and did not relent thereafter; the umpires called off proceedings at 4.50pm.

The two nations must now switch quickly into limited-overs mode, starting with the Twenty20 fixture at the weekend. They then meet in a five-match one-day series that will see Sanath Jayasuriya make his international swansong.

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