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Top order, rain save England

A SOLID top order performance and heavy afternoon rain helped England draw the second test against Sri Lanka on yesterday.

Half-centuries from Michael Vaughan, Alastair Cook and Ian Bell allowed England to reach 250 for three at

tea before the final session was washed out.

England, who lost the opening test by 88 runs, have a chance to level the series when the third match begins in Galle on Tuesday.

The visitors, resuming on 48-0 after bad light stopped play early on Wednesday, wiped out a 197-run first innings deficit during the afternoon to leave themselves with a 53 run lead at the interval.

England skipper Vaughan led from the front with a stylish 61, fellow opener Cook batted solidly for his 62 and Bell continued a consistent run with 54.

Kevin Pietersen also chipped in with a confident unbeaten 45 and was batting with Paul Collingwood on 23 when play was called off.

Vaughan started the morning positively, continuing his good form from the first innings, with Cook also looking comfortable on a slow and lifeless pitch.

The pair followed their first innings partnership of 133 with a 107 run stand in the second, which was broken when Dilhara Fernando, his pace reduced by an ankle injury, fooled Vaughan with a well disguised slower ball that he chipped straight back for a return catch.

Vaughan had scored 61 from 109 balls with eight boundaries.

Sri Lanka’s chances of forcing a result were not helped by a 30-minute rain interruption midway through the session.

The docile pitch also made life difficult for the bowlers and the Sri Lankans chopped and changed the bowling frequently in a bid to grab wickets. — Reuters.

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