Tharanga impresses with unbeaten 92 as England toil

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COLOMBO, Nov 20 (Reuters) Sri Lanka test hopeful Upul Tharanga rediscovered his batting form with an unbeaten 92 as England's bowlers were forced to toil on the opening day of a tour match.

Tharanga helped a Sri Lanka Board President's XI to 218 for three after 61 overs on a rain-shortened first day. His fine 167-ball innings included eight fours and a six.

Malinda Warnapura, also competing for a test spot, made 48 although he should have been caught in the gully early on by Ian Bell, one of three dropped chances by England.

Chamara Kapudegera, dropped just before the close by Alistair Cook, finished the day on 48 not out before a tropical downpour interrupted play today.

England, who are rotating 16 players in the match, will have been satisfied by the economy of their fast bowlers. However, the spinners found life tougher with Monty Panesar conceding five boundaries in his first over.

Panesar and off spinner Graham Swann were hit for 107 runs in 20 overs.

''It was hard work,'' Swann told reporters. ''You forget just how hot it is out here. In the one-day stuff its three hours and then you're off but in the 90-over stuff you just keep plugging and plugging away.

''I hope I can put pressure on any of the bowlers but I have to bowl well and get rhythm,'' added Swan, who played a key role in England's one-day series win and is aiming for a test place.

''I have started at the bottom so can only get better.'' England fast bowler Steve Harmison joined the squad from South Africa and is expected to bowl tomorrw.

The tourists will play three tests against Sri Lanka starting on December 1 in Kandy.

REUTERS RAR BST2003

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