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Dilshan half-century halts England


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KANDY, Sri Lanka -- Tillekeratne Dilshan notched a stylish half-century on Wednesday to lead a Sri Lankan rally on the opening day of the second Test against England.

But Dilshan received little support from his fellow batsmen as Sri Lanka, 187 for three at one stage, ended on 277 for seven.

Dilshan, called up for the first time in two and a half years in place of leg spinner Upul Chandana, top scored with 10 boundaries in his 63 from 94 balls.

England, who started the match with only a three-man attack having dropped seamers Matthew Hoggard and Richard Johnson, broke through again with the second new ball in the 87th over, as James Kirtley trapped Chaminda Vaas lbw, to leave the match intriguingly poised.

Sri Lanka skipper Hashan Tillakaratne found form after a disappointing first Test, batting out the final session to finish unbeaten on 45 from 97 balls. Kumar Dharmasena was one not out.

Ashley Giles, England's hero in Galle with bat and ball, recovered from a bad bout of flu to take three for 85 from 27 overs.

Dilshan added 103 runs for the fourth wicket with Mahela Jayawardene (45) after the loss of Marvan Atapattu (11), Kumar Sangakkara (34) and Sanath Jayasuriya (32) before lunch.

Jayawardene followed his grafting 86 not out in the first Test with a more assured 45 from 94 balls, hitting six fours and one six before top edging a sweep and being caught by Kirtley running in from deep square 10 minutes before tea.

Straight after the break, Dilshan gloved a nasty lifting delivery from Andrew Flintoff to Marcus Trescothick at first slip.

Three overs later, Thilan Samaraweera was unfortunate to be adjudged lbw by umpire Darryl Harper as he padded away a delivery from Giles that would have missed off stump.

Tillakaratne and Vaas kept England's bowlers at bay for another 84 minutes before Vaughan finally took the new ball in the 86th over.

Earlier, England had snatched the initiative before lunch as Sri Lanka, who had been cruising on 77 for one after winning the toss and electing to bat, slipped to 84 for three.

Sri Lanka lost their second wicket when Jayasuriya pushed the ball straight to mid-off and set off for a suicidal run.

Sangakkara tried to send him back but eventually sacrificed his wicket as Kirtley's throw left him yards short.

That ended a 56-run stand in which Sangakkara, who had looked in prime form, scored 36 from 49 balls, hitting six fours.

Jayasuriya was fortunate to survive two lbw appeals against Giles soon after and was then unlucky to have been adjudged to have gloved Giles' last delivery before lunch. His 32 from 90 balls included four fours.

In the first hour, Marvan Atapattu was trapped lbw for 11 as he played down the wrong line of a straight delivery from Kirtley.


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