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Jonathan Trott's century went unrewarded as Sri Lanka claimed a 75-run victory over England in the first Test in Galle.
The tourists resumed on the fourth morning at 111-2 in pursuit of a target of 340, more than they had ever successfully chased in a Test match before.
Trott turned his overnight 40 into an innings of 112 but lacked support as England lost regular wickets and were all out for 264 in the first over of the evening session.
Left-spinner Rangana Herath picked up 6-97 to finish with career-best figures of 12-171. All of England's second-innings wickets fell to slow bowlers, Suraj Randiv backing up Herath with 4-74.
England, the top-ranked side in the world, have now lost four straight Tests following their 3-0 loss to Pakistan in the UAE earlier this winter.
They must win the second Test, in Colombo from April 3-7, to earn a share of the two-match series.
England lost Kevin Pietersen and Ian Bell on the way to lunch at 177-4.
Pietersen (30) failed to reach the pitch of a dipping delivery from Randiv and chipped to Mahela Jayawardene at midwicket in the third over of the day, ending a stand of 70 with Trott.
Bell (13), the only batsman to impress with a half-century in the first innings, was given out lbw sweeping, umpire Rod Tucker's decision upheld on review much to the right-hander's displeasure.
But a partnership of 81 between Trott and Matt Prior (41) either side of lunch kept England in contention on a ground where the highest run chase in 19 previous Tests stood at 95.
Trott advanced to his seventh Test hundred with a swept boundary off Herath, the 10th four of his 240-ball innings.
With the second new ball having been taken and Sri Lanka running short of ideas, Prior's firm sweep was held by Lahiru Thirimanne in his midriff at short-leg, reducing England to 233-5 and completing Herath's maiden 10-wicket haul.
And that proved a pivotal moment; Samit Patel (9), Trott and Graeme Swann (1) following in quick succession to leave England on the brink of defeat at tea on 259-8.
Patel drove too early at a ball from Herath and was caught at the second attempt by Tillakaratne Dilshan in the covers.
After five-and-a-half hours at the crease, Trott's resistance came to a tame end when he worked a turning Randiv delivery into the hands of Dilshan at leg slip.
Swann followed in the final over before the interval, lbw to Herath after missing with a sweep, and took England's final review with him on the way back to the pavilion.
The end came quickly when play resumed, James Anderson (5) and Monty Panesar (0) going to successive Randiv deliveries, completing a collapse of 6-31.Sri Lanka v England. Click here to bet.
Typical England -- Like India they cannot play well away from home and also cannot play spin. Andy Flower needs to get those boys back in the nets and just bowl spin and look at their techniques. Trott scored a 100 but it came in over 260 balls faced and no one supported him. This sounds harsh but England cannot play away from their back yard
Posted 16:54 29th March 2012
England just need more practice against spin in the conditions that suit it (over there...). They proved in Pakistan that give them a few weeks, and they will start to dominate the opposition. Now it's a new country and we are behind again. But it'll be the same progress made. As for who deserves to stay or go in the England batting line up, all of the top 4 have sensational batting records; it is just that you can't expect them all to do well in each Test (for the people who are 'casual followers' of the game and stupidly start calling for heads to roll without knowing how the game really works). This test, it is Trott who did well. In pakistan, it was Pietersen who outshone everyone else for the last 3 games (with 2 centuries in the 1-dayers and man of the match in the T20). Next test, who knows, it might be Bell (who may be returning to the top form we know he is often capable of). People, it is really stupid to call for the heads of the likes of KP when you're not true fans of the game.
Posted 16:01 29th March 2012
@Alan Dobson - Right you are. when one's team is waning it will not just take regrouping on-field but off too. Off-field regrouping includes one's support. More pressure is created by your support if any player begins to tangibly feel the heat from the people they represent. Support! Support! Support! It will be so much greater #1 playing #2 with both teams at the peak of its trade. Eng still have the same players who got them to the top, so strictly speaking they should be the players to keep them there. Losing again to a whitewash could erase all believe from players who are perhaps rightly on the fringes of being dropped juxapose the effect of them rising to the occasion and doing well in the next match. A beautiful contest though. Isnt it the better for cricket when the teams are so closely meaured as is now around the world?
Posted 14:56 29th March 2012
Pathetic, as simple as that. Pietersen has got to go he is not up to the task and it is laughable how easy it is for spin to get rid of him. Panesar wouldnt even get into our sunday league team, he cant bat or field and his bowling is very expensive and very average. Come home boys before you are a total embarrassment
Posted 14:12 29th March 2012
This is shocking from England. They clearly haven't learnt their lessons from Dubai & Abu Dhabi. They all laughed at India when they fared miserably in English conditions but I'm afraid its England's turn now to be at the recieving end.
Posted 13:51 29th March 2012
Here England have again been brought down to earth, not long ago they were putting themselves on an equal with the great Australian and West Indian Teams who dominated everyone for years and years. Happy Aussie
Posted 13:49 29th March 2012
Fickle Fickle fans.... "England are rubbish" really? are they? I mean they are playing in Alien conditions against a completely different side than they are used to but I would like to see the comments from some people on here from the Ashes! Support through thick and thin when we are on top and when we are not! And as for playing into form on the county circuit.... It's March! People should support the team and the squad not call it a sinking ship, not so long ago we were beating India to become best test side! Get behind the lads and stop being so negative and fickle!!!!
Posted 12:54 29th March 2012
Its fantastic that England lost, I support the Aussies and I hope they were watching, lets take the Ashes back to where they belong, back in AUSTRALIA.
Posted 12:52 29th March 2012
Whats suddenly gone wrong with England their No.1 position is now doubtful with the emergence of Pakistan and Australia on their heels. They need to sharpen their batting against the spinners as this is the second time in a row they have been exposed. The England fans expected a better performance except for Trott who has performed brilliantly with the bat.
Posted 12:46 29th March 2012
The result was a real shame as there were so many big moments when the game really turned. I thought it was actually a really great test match despite the loss. There are however some areas England really have to address. When I look at the team sheet, I just can't see any players in there, apart from Cook or Trott who I feel can bat for a whole day. Maybe it's the influence of the shorter form of the game that has caused this but we do need one more very old fashioned innings builder in the team. Another issue is that there are too many players trying to find form in the national team. Finding form should be done on the county circuit, form players should be in the national set-up. Bell is a great player, but a stint back at Warwickshire could do him the world of good. Another issue is that Strauss is perhaps lacking in an aggressive approach when we're bowling. Too many times when a new batsman comes in, we back off too quickly. Also, I believe tail-enders are far more scared of facing 90mph bowling compared to our spinners. I don't believe Broad will be a huge loss for the next test. He is a great player but Finn's form is a great reassurance. Patel was a poor pick. He's only just settled in the one day team, Bresnan would have added a bit more experience to the side. I really hope the guys can pick themselves up as I've really come to adore this group and they really do have the ability but unfortunately, the confidence is slipping. Come on England, you can turn this around.
Posted 12:28 29th March 2012
Once again, after series with Pakistan in UAE, England showed lack of discipline in batting. This pitch wasn't that bad for batting as the score cards show. In both innings Sri Lankan last few batsmen managed to rectify mistakes of top order batting collapse, but England didn't.
Posted 12:12 29th March 2012
It seems England have forgotten how to bat against spinners. Back to basics is a must and forget these reverse sweep shots. Also Patel bowls 18 overs and scores 11 runs in the match. Why is he in the side? They drop Morgan for that? The mind boggles.
Posted 11:49 29th March 2012
England disgraced yet again - and crying all the way to the ECB - does this mean that well paid selectors will be dispatched to the four corners of the globe with new passports for anyone they think will help us win a game! Yet again it has taken a disgruntled South African to try and steady a sinking ship! When will the ECB start selecting English players that will play for their country and not an adopted wage-slip!! Well done Sri Linka beaten in the last 17 tests and now humiliated the worlds No.1...
Posted 11:22 29th March 2012
We will get the same old drivel after the match ie: We can take the poistives from the match, we have confidence in our abilities both individually and as a team and there may be a few areas we need to work on (damn right there are). Its the same every time after defeat they are all like parrots repeating the same pathetic comments over and over again.
Posted 11:15 29th March 2012
How many Test Matches do England have to lose before Kevin Pietersen makes his "match winning" innings?
Posted 11:01 29th March 2012
England must perform well against spin
Posted 10:54 29th March 2012
England and just so rubbish. We lost to Pakistan against their spinners and and now to an extremely ordinary Sri Lankan side against their spinners. We were not and have NEVER been the best side in the world. When you have clueless players like Strauss, Bell and Pietersen still in the side you will not win anything in the sub continent. It is time to have a clear out, start with the above three and get shot of Patel as he needs to lose weight before we can take him seriously. What a sad day for English cricket.
Posted 10:54 29th March 2012