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Fletcher praises under-strength attack

England coach Duncan Fletcher praised his under-strength attack as Sri Lanka were restricted to 277 for seven on day one of the second test on Wednesday.

india Updated: Dec 10, 2003 18:51 IST
Reuters
Reuters
PTI

England coach Duncan Fletcher praised his under-strength attack as Sri Lanka were restricted to 277 for seven on day one of the second test on Wednesday.

England had lost another important toss - Michael Vaughan's seventh in eight matches - but produced a battling display as Ashley Giles took three for 85 and James Kirtley finished with two for 75.

"We are very happy with that score considering the fast outfield," Fletcher told reporters. "That would have been about 240 for seven in Galle.

"The guys stuck to it again and showed a lot of character grinding it out."

England caused a surprise by fielding just three specialist bowlers plus all-rounder Andrew Flintoff, with captain Michael Vaughan and Paul Collingwood providing emergency back-up.

"We had lots of discussion but felt that the fifth bowler would not be used much with two spin bowlers in the side," Fletcher explained.

"We thought Collingwood could do a job and he did what he was asked to do, bowling wicket to wicket and drying up the runs." The batting all rounder bowled seven overs of medium pace for 12 runs.

England opted for Kirtley as Flintoff's new ball partner, leaving out Richard Johnson and Matthew Hoggard, who played in the first test, and James Anderson, who missed it with an ankle injury.

"Johnson has not been feeling too well in recent days and Anderson did not have the mileage in his legs so that would also have been a bit of a risk," said Fletcher.

"Hoggard struggles a bit when it does not swing, while Kirtley bowls on these types of low bouncing surfaces all the time down in Sussex.

"We are concerned about his workload but we had to come up with the best side to win this test match."

Tillakaratne Dilshan, playing his first test since England last toured in 2001, top scored for Sri Lanka with 63.

"I made sure I was not going to play negatively today," he told reporters.

"I was down to bat at number seven but was asked by the coach if I wanted to bat at five at lunch -- I was told to use my feet and attack the spinners.

"I was comfortable against Giles because I was able to get to the pitch. They dropped the field and that made run scoring easier.

"It was a good batting track and good score for us would have been 300 for five, but we didn't get there because of the unnecessary run out of (Kumar) Sangakkara and dismissal of Sanath (Jayasuriya) just before lunch."

First Published: Dec 10, 2003 18:51 IST