England work hard for runs

Nuwan Kulasekera, right, celebrates taking the wicket of England captain Alastair Cook

Nuwan Kulasekera, right, celebrates taking the wicket of England captain Alastair Cook

First published in National Sport News © by

England battled to a hard-working 101 for two against Sri Lanka before heavy rain forced the players off in the first Royal London one-day international at The Oval.

The hosts, in their first high-profile match in this format since Peter Moores returned as coach following last winter's Ashes whitewash, lost captain Alastair Cook early after being put in on a cloudy afternoon.

An attack led by Lasith Malinga and Nuwan Kulasekara was bound to make progress difficult, and so it proved as England struggled for a foothold in the match.

Cook made just 11 from 23 balls and had already been dropped on one before going to an edge behind at an attempted drive off Kulasekara as he tried to give the innings some much-needed momentum.

His opening partner Ian Bell was attempting to do likewise five overs later when he called two from a nudge into the leg-side, but would have been run out for 17 had wicketkeeper Kumar Sangakkara's dash and throw on the turn hit the stumps.

In awkward circumstances, Bell and England's new number three Gary Ballance nonetheless did well to keep the board ticking - including with a memorable straight six by the opener off Thisara Perera.

However, Bell was dismissed for 50 in the 21st over when a thunderstorm broke over the ground.

Half-an-hour of very heavy rain left puddles on the outfield, but with an improving forecast it was announced an inspection would take place at 4pm.

After a second inspection, it was announced play would start again at 5pm with overs reduced to 39-per-side.

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