KEEPING LORD'S WORLD CLASS
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Tillakaratne Dilshan’s Sri Lankan tourists laid down an impressive marker ahead of their Test series against England with a 38-run win over England Lions.
England’s second string were dismissed for just 183 in their run chase in Derby, with uncapped seamer Nuwan Prandeep picking up four wickets.
Dilshan, who will captain the side for the first time in Tests when the series gets underway in Cardiff on Thursday, had earlier led the way with a brilliant 117.
The opener put on exactly 200 with Tharanga Paranavitana for the opening wicket as the tourists overhauled a massive 227-run first innings deficit to set England 222 for victory.
Prandeep and Dilhara Fernando then did the bulk of the damage to the England batting line-up, with Fernando taking 3-33 - including the wicket of Eoin Morgan, called into the England Test squad earlier that day.
Sri Lanka are yet to win a Test series in England and have not won a Test at Lord’s in five attempts.
The number four ranked side in the world are underdogs for the three match npower Test series – with the second Test played at the Home of Cricket.
Victory over a strong Lions side, which included two players (Morgan and Steven Finn) named in the full 12-man Test squad, will have alerted England to their strengths though.
Sri Lanka’s two Test victories in England have been inspired by Muttiah Muralitharan, who took 16 wickets at the Oval in 1998 and 11 at Trent Bridge in 2006.
Muralitharan, the leading wicket taker in Test history, has retired from international cricket though, leaving a huge void for Sri Lanka’s bowlers to fill.
The efforts of Fernando and Prandeep though will give Dilshan hope that he can assemble an attack capable of taking 20 wickets in English conditions.
While England’s seam bowling riches have spearheaded their recent efforts in Test cricket, Sri Lanka have played their last 21 Tests in spin friendly sub-continental conditions.
Pace will be the key in early season English conditions though and Fernando, the only Sri Lanka seamer with experience playing of Test cricket in England, has a massive part to play.
The 31-year-old has played 35 Tests in a stop-start 12-year international career but is relishing the prospect of leading the Sri Lanka attack.
“I am extremely happy to be made the spearhead of the fast bowling attack.” said Fernando.
“Now that I have got the opportunity I am determined to go all out and prove a point.
“I don't think I will ever get another opportunity like this to prove myself. I will put 100 percent effort into every delivery I bowl.”
Fernando played one Test in England at Old Trafford in 2002 and also had a spell in the County Championship with Worcestershire in 2009.
He added: “I have bowled very well in English conditions and wickets.
“I am hoping to use that experience to the maximum on this tour. I hope the conditions will help the fast bowlers.”
Sri Lanka will be closely monitoring Fernando's fitness. During the match against the Lions he appeared to be slightly hampered by a knee injury.
With that in mind the tourists have added another bowler with experience of bowling in England to their squad - Lancashire's Farveez Maharoof.