Alastair Cook misses century as England look to battle Lankan spinners

Alastair Cook failed to reach his 20th Test hundred after falling six runs short but his innings has laid the cornerstone for England Getty Images

Colombo: Apr 5, 2012

Alastair Cook and Jonathan Trott put on a 91-run stand as England closed in on Sri Lanka’s first innings total of 275 in the second Test in Colombo on Thursday.

Left-hander Cook made 94 and Trott was unbeaten on 62 as the tourists moved to 239 for two by lunch on the second day, trailing by just 36 runs with eight wickets in hand at the P. Sara Oval.

Trott, the lone English batsman to shine in the first Test in Galle with a grim 112 in the second innings, continued his good form by slamming seven boundaries.

Kevin Pietersen was on 18, having added 26 for the third wicket with Trott.

England, who lost in Galle by 75 runs, need a win to level the short two-match series and retain their position as the world’s top-ranked side.

Cook fell six short of his 20th century for the second time in four Tests when he edged off-spinner Tillakaratne Dilshan to skipper Mahela Jayawardene in the slips.

The 27-year-old had also fallen for 94 in the second Test against Pakistan in Abu Dhabi in January when he was leg-before to another off-spinner, Saeed Ajmal.

Cook was on 84 when he attempted to reverse sweep Rangana Herath and the ball ballooned to Mahela Jayawardene in the slips, but umpire Asad Rauf turned down the loud appeal for a catch.

The Sri Lankans, confident that Cook had gloved the ball, asked for a review, but TV umpire Rod Tucker ruled in the batsman’s favour since replays showed no clear evidence the ball had gone off the bat or glove.

The Hot Spot, or infra-red technology, which could have proved decisive in the appeal, is not being used for the series.

Trott did most of his scoring in the first hour, hitting three boundaries, as Cook preferred to grind it out on the slow pitch that made shot-making difficult.

Cook’s two fours in one over from Suranga Lakmal brought up England’s 200, and Trott reached his half-century with a glide to third man off Dhammika Prasad. (AFP)

Brief Scores: Sri Lanka 275 all-out (Mahela Jayawardene 105, Angelo Mathews 57, Thilan Samaraweera 54; Graeme Swann 4 for 75, James Anderson 3 for 62) lead England 239 for 2 (Jonathan Trott 62*, Alastair Cook 94; Tillakaratne Dilshan 2 for 27) by 36 runs.

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