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England cook up a draw

Galle: A determined 118 by Alastair Cook and a tropical downpour helped England draw the third and final Test against Sri Lanka on Saturday.

The fifth day was abandoned 31 overs before the scheduled close due to torrential rain shortly after tea with England on 251 for six, still trailing by 167 runs.

Sri Lanka thus won the series 1-0. Cook rescued some pride for England — who were bowled out for 81 in the first innings — with a 285-ball effort to anchor the innings. It was England’s only century of the series.

Cook shared partnerships of 61 with Ian Bell (34), 72 for the third wicket with Kevin Pietersen (30) and 50 with wicketkeeper Matt Prior, who batted for 109 minutes for his 19 not out.

Cook and Bell had made a solid start in the morning, extending their second-wicket partnership to 61 before a Muralidharan kept low and bowled Bell. Cook’s resistance continued with Pietersen, the pair adding 72 without great alarm.

With the game drifting towards a draw, Muralidharan — who bowled unchanged for two-and-a-half hours — had Pietersen caught at short mid-wicket by Mahela Jayawardene.

Two balls later, Collingwood was deceived by Muralidharan’s doosra and stumped. Next ball, Ravi Bopara completed a pair after being run out by a diving Jayawardene at slip.

England had collapsed from a relatively comfortable 200 for two to a shaky 200 for five, reviving memories of their batting collapse on Thursday.

However, Cook and Prior blunted the Sri Lanka attack during the first hour of the afternoon session and then the first rain interruption washed out the rest of the session.

When play resumed, left-armer Chanaka Welegedera found the outside edge of Cook, finally ending a stubborn match-saving partnership that lasted 104 minutes.

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