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18th-Jun-2014

Frustrated Cook keen to get back among the runs

By AFP, London

England captain Alastair Cook will hope a return to the scene of his last Test hundred sees him back among the runs after a thrilling series opener with Sri Lanka ended in a draw at Lord's.
Cook saw England pile up 575 for nine declared in the first innings at Lord's on the back of 23-year-old Joe Root's unbeaten 200 not out and then be bailed out second time around by a maiden Test century from Gary Ballance-Root's 24-year-old Yorkshire colleague.
Ballance's hundred enabled Cook to declare before Monday's final day and set Sri Lanka 390 to win.
However, Sri Lanka just did enough to cling on for a draw at 201 for nine after last man Nuwan Pradeep saw out the final five balls of the match from Stuart Broad.
Although Cook was heartened by a new-look England's performance in their first Test since the 5-0 Ashes drubbing in Australia, the 29-year-old left-handed opener accepted his own form was a concern.
Scores of 17 and 28 at Lord's meant it was now 22 innings since Cook compiled the last of his England record 25 hundreds-130 against New Zealand at Headingley in May last year.
However, the Leeds ground is the venue for Friday's second and final Test of the Sri Lanka series.
"I'd love a score. Leading from the front as a captain, you want to score runs - that's your job as a batter," Cook said Monday.
Root was named man-of-the-match but the honour could have gone to James Anderson after the England spearhead turned the game on its head with a spell of three wickets for one run either side of tea on Monday.
Anderson, who finished with impressive innings figures of four for 25 in 19 overs on a docile pitch, was well-supported by longtime new- ball partner Broad (three for 43).
Come the last over, England still needed two wickets for victory.
The first ball of that over saw Broad have Rangana Herath caught behind and England thought he'd won the match when Pradeep was given out lbw to the penultimate delivery.
But the Sri Lanka No 11 called for a review and former Australia paceman Paul Reiffel's decision was overturned for an inside edge.
Pradeep then nicked the last ball short of the slips to secure a draw.
Cook insisted he'd no problems with the Decision Review System verdict that reprieved Pradeep.
"I've always been a big fan of it," he said. "It's to stop the howler and unfortunately, that one was quite a big inside edge.
"It's gutting to take at that time but as players you want the right decision."
Apart from fifties by Kaushal Silva (57) and Kumar Sangakkara, who made 61 to go with his first-innings 147, Sri Lanka found runs hard to come by on Monday.
"I thought we batted poorly, after tea especially," said Sri Lanka captain Angelo Mathews, eighth man out for 18, having made 102 in the first innings.
However, the all-rounder saluted the tenth-wicket duo of Shaminda Eranga and Pradeep, whose combined score of nought not out Monday told only part of the story.