Plunkett and Pietersen set up England victory
by AFP

Ground:Edgbaston, Birmingham
Scorecard:England v Sri Lanka
Player:LE Plunkett, KP Pietersen, AN Cook, MG Vandort, M Muralitharan
Event:Sri Lanka in England 2006

DateLine: 28th May 2006


Liam Plunkett's rapid three-wicket haul provided the platform Sunday for England to beat Sri Lanka by six wickets in the second Test here at Edgbaston and take a 1-0 lead in the three-match series.


England, needing 78, finished on 81 for four with Alastair Cook 34 not out and England captain Andrew Flintoff four not out, to win with over a day to spare for what was only their second Test victory in nine matches.


Earlier, the 21-year-old Plunkett took three wickets for two runs in eight balls as England dismissed Sri Lanka for 231 before lunch on the fourth day.


He finished with a Test-best three for 17 as Sri Lanka lost their last five wickets for 12 runs and, in total, Plunkett had match figures of six for 60.


Michael Vandort was the last man out for 105 for the 26-year-old left-handed opener's second Test hundred.


England had been in a commanding position when, after Plunkett's three for 43 saw them bowl Sri Lanka out for a modest 141, Pietersen's dynamic 142 - his second hundred of the series - gave the hosts a first innings lead of 154.


Sri Lanka coach Tom Moody had said a target of 130 would be the minimum star off-spinner spinner Muttiah Muralitharan needed to trouble England and bowl the tourists to victory on a wearing pitch.


Murali, who'd taken six for 86 in England's first innings, struck fourth ball to have Marcus Trescothick lbw for nought.


But with such a small target, and a lack of bowling quality at the other end, not even Murali - who took all the England second wickets to fall on the way to four for 29 - and a match return of 10 for 115, the 15th time he'd taken 10 or more wickets in a Test match, could rescue his side this time.


Durham quick Plunkett had been unable to bowl on Saturday's rain-affected third day because of a right shoulder injury sustained while fielding Friday.


But after England captain Andrew Flintoff had made the initial breakthrough Sunday, taking Farveez Maharoof caught and bowled, Plunkett took over.


He had Chaminda Vaas taken in the gully by Paul Collingwood and next ball the Durham duo combined again to dismiss Nuwan Kulasekara. Lasith Malinga survived the hat-trick ball but soon edged Flintoff to Strauss at second slip.


Vandort became Plunkett's third victim when he was caught behind having batted for over six-and-a-half hours, facing 303 balls with nine fours.


Sri Lanka resumed on 194 for five, a lead of 40, with Vandort 89 not out and Maharoof unbeaten on nought. But the arrival of the new ball made the difference as wickets tumbled.


England scored 295 on Friday with Pietersen dominant after he'd equalled his Test-best 158 in the drawn series opener at Lord's, where Sri Lanka batted for 14 hours to save the game after following-on.


His innings was particularly valuable as none of his team-mates managed more than Strauss's 30. The third Test is due to start at Trent Bridge on Friday.

(Article: Copyright © 2006 AFP)


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