Graeme Swann puts England nearer victory over Sri Lanka

By Marc HigginsonBBC Sport
Graeme Swann
Graeme Swann
Second Test, Colombo, day four (stumps)
Sri Lanka 275 & 218-6 v England 460
Match scorecard

Graeme Swann took two wickets in the penultimate over of the day to give England a fantastic chance of winning the second Test against Sri Lanka.

He bowled the dangerous Thilan Samaraweera to end a 90-run stand with Mahela Jayawardene, before repeating the trick to dismiss Suraj Randiv.

Swann turned the match firmly in England's favour, with Sri Lanka 33 runs ahead with four wickets remaining.

Jayawardene (55) remains at the crease with all-rounder Angelo Mathews.

Swann's late intervention was timely for England, who need to win the match to level the series and retain their number one Test ranking, coming as Samaraweera and Jayawardene looked capable of batting the tourists out of the game.

The pair seemed to be in complete control before Samaraweera chopped a spinning delivery on to his stumps on 47 and Randiv was beaten all-ends-up by another wicked turner two balls later.

The late drama was reward for some hard yards in the field, as hours of frustration turned into elation within a matter of minutes.

An unexpected cameo from nightwatchman Dhammika Prasad looked to have set the tone for England's difficult day in the field.

The fast bowler defied the early loss of out-of-form opener Lahiru Thirimanne to hit a succession of boundaries, managing to get under the skin of James Anderson as he stroked his way to 34 before being caught at deep square leg.

Thirimanne's dismissal brought another free-scoring player to the crease - Tillakaratne Dilshan - but adventure gave way to attrition as the Sri Lankans knuckled down to the task at hand.

They slowly chipped away at England's overnight lead of 181, showing the necessary application to grind down the bowlers on a wicket which offered little assistance.

The tourists, while bowling a tight line, struggled to impose any authority on the batsmen although Kumar Sangakkara's lean time continued as the left-hander struggled to deal with Swann from around the wicket.

If Sangakkara's slow run-rate was down to a lack of form, Dilshan's circumspect approach was tactical and it was a surprise when, after being relatively untroubled, he was caught at slip by Anderson off Swann.

The dismissal was not without controversy, however, with the former Sri Lanka captain reviewing the decision, only to see the umpire's decision upheld with a series of replays unable to prove he had not got the faintest of inside edges.

Dilshan's frustration was evident as he trudged from the pitch but, having been fined 10% of his match fee for excessive appealing on day three, he managed to keep his emotions relatively in check.

Sangakkara was finally put out of his misery by Swann - the England spinner managing to turn one out of the rough to find the edge - and that brought Samaraweera to the crease with the hosts still more than 50 runs in arrears.

Alongside his composed captain Jayawardene, that lead was slowly overturned while England's bowlers toiled away as their confidence and energy drained.

Showing tenacity and class in equal measure, the pair were just moments away from batting their team to the close and a position where they might have even entertaining thoughts of winning the match on the final day.

But they did not count on the class of Swann with the England spinner providing the sort of inspiration that made him one of the top-ranked slow bowlers in the world.

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