England kept their hopes of victory alive in the second Test at Lords, surging into a 156-run lead after Sri Lanka were earlier bowled out for 479 on the rain-interrupted fourth day.
Alastair Cook scored an unbeaten half-century to lead the hosts to 149 for two at the close after England had bagged the last seven Sri Lankan wickets for just 85 runs to claim a slender seven-run first innings advantage.
Inclement weather meant that an early lunch was taken before a ball had been bowled, but when the players did eventually come out it was Steve Finn who made the most of the conditions, claiming four wickets as the tourists – who were 372 for three overnight – saw their first innings fizzle out into a narrow deficit.
Finn (four for 108) struck early – a major blow – to remove Mahela Jayawardene just one run short of his half-century. Chris Tremlett (two for 85) then got into the act just two balls later as he removed the other overnight batsman, Thilan Samaraweera, for nine.
Soon after all-rounder Ferveez Maharoof was trapped lbw by Stuart Broad (one for 125), and at 409 for six the tourists innings was suddenly faltering.
However, an enterprising 57-run stand between Prasanna Jayawardene and Rangana Herath boosted the Sri Lankans, each batsman blasting a six and Herath getting into an entertaining verbal tussle with Stuart Broad – both players eager to exchange pleasantries.
Graeme Swann (three for 101) was brought back into the attack and after taking some treatment from both both Jayawardene and Herath, the off-spinner got his reward as Herath attempted one big shot too many and was stumped for 26. Wicketkeeper-batsman Jayawardene followed shortly afterward for a well-played 40 and the innings came to an abrupt end as Swann finished things off with two more wickets.
England were then forced into a tough five-over period before tea and skipper Andrew Strauss lasted just two deliveries before he was snared by Chanaka Welgedara, whose accuracy and movement in the air had the left-handed struck plumb in front for the second time in the Test. Strauss in desperation called for a review, but it proved in vain.
Despite the early loss of their captain, Alastair Cook and Jonathan Trott then powered the next 117 runs in just over 25 overs, Trott the more aggressive of the two as he reached 50 in 66 deliveries.
With darkness descending in an extended evening session, Sri Lanka turned to left-armer Herath and the 33-year-old struck in his opening over. An uncharacteristically loose stroke from Trott saw England’s Player of the Year bowled for 58.
With a left-arm spinner on the attack and the light fading, Kevin Pietersen entered to face his demons, and passed the test as he reached a composed 15 not out at the close.
Cook, meanwhile, collected yet another half-century as he finished 61 not out in an evening session which saw 36 overs bowled. Cricket365