Cook falls short of century as England stutter

LONDON: Alastair Cook fell short of a 29th test century as Sri Lanka hit back just before tea to leave England on 165 for five on the first day of the final test at Lord's on Thursday.

Captain Cook and Jonny Bairstow seemed to be steering the hosts away from trouble after Sri Lanka had reduced them to 84-4 shortly after lunch, but Cook was undone by a beauty from seamer Nuwan Pradeep after reaching a serene 85.


Angling one in, Pradeep trapped Cook plumb lbw to swing the day back towards the visitors who are trying to avoid a 3-0 series whitewash after heavy losses in the first two tests.

Cook, who struck nine boundaries, had put on 50 with Bairstow who looked in good nick on 44 not out.

It was Pradeep's second wicket of the day after he had bowled James Vince in the fourth over after lunch for 10.

After Vince was out Cook steadied the ship in his own unflustered way although Bairstow was lucky when he was dropped by Shaminda Eranga at mid-wicket when he had made 11.

England had named an unchanged side from their nine-wicket win at Durham while Sri Lanka made one change -- Kusal Perera returning after six months out fighting doping allegations.

The 25-year-old batsman was recently cleared by the International Cricket Council (ICC) after it was announced in December he failed a drugs test last July.