FAST bowler James Anderson returned to action to set up a thrilling England run chase against a Sri Lanka Cricket Board President’s XI.
With fellow paceman Steve Harmison elsewhere in the Sri Lankan capital undergoing a scan on his back, Anderson wrapped up the President’s XI innings within five minutes on the final morning.
Lancashire’s Anderson struck in the first full over of the day to allay fears about his injured ankle ahead of Saturday’s first Test.
Having been struck for a boundary square on the off-side, the 25-year-old followed up with a bouncer which followed Chanaka Welegedara and brushed the gloves on the way through to wicketkeeper Matt Prior, to end the hosts’ second innings for 81.
Captain Michael Vaughan then raced England towards their 246-run victory target at the Nondescripts Cricket Club, and at lunch they were 88-2.
Just as in the previous warm-up match, Vaughan looked in prime form, the first of three boundaries in one over from left-armer Sujeewa de Silva – a back-foot drive down the ground – reminiscent of his halcyon period of 2002-03.
But, having struck 28 out of a score of 50, he succumbed attacking Jehan Mubarak’s gentle medium pace – advancing down the pitch to hit straight, the ball sliced off the bat straight to point.
England’s start contrasted to the first innings when they were in turmoil at 21-3 but the scoring rate was stifled by Vaughan’s departure in the 11th over.
Ian Bell also perished in attack mode when, in going aerial against off-spinner Tillekaratne Dilshan, he mis-hit to deep mid-on.
That gave Kevin Pietersen ample opportunity to make a score, having not managed to get to double figures in his first two innings of the tour. He broke that statistic in the over before the interval, which he reached alongside Alastair Cook (35 not out).
Harmison, 29, was absent from the ground as he had been sent for further investigation into the back spasm he incurred on the first day.
Anderson has been suffering prolonged back stiffness but continues to bowl through it while his left ankle injury – caused by a blow from the ball while fielding – proved to be no more than bruising.
Technically he should not have been allowed to bowl on the final morning of the first-class fixture as he had been on the field in yesterday’s evening session.
But, after Kevin Pietersen sent down the two deliveries required to complete his unfinished over, the umpires conferred and allowed Anderson to double his wicket tally for the match.
Shortly after lunch Cook and Pietersen took England past the 100 mark.