PALLEKELE, Sri Lanka: England picked up three wickets in the second session but a resilient Sri Lanka dug in to keep alive their hopes of forging first innings lead on the second day of the second test on Thursday.
Replying to England’s first innings total of 285, the hosts reached 244 for seven at the break, still trailing by 41 runs, with Roshen Silva unbeaten on 46 and Dilruwan Perera not out on 11. The duo have added 33 for their unbroken stand.
Sri Lanka, trailing 1-0 in the three-test series after last week’s loss in Galle, resumed on 26-1 but lost nightwatchman Malinda Pushpakumara in the third over to a poor shot.
That dismissal brought opener Dimuth Karunaratne and Dhananjaya de Silva together, and the duo built a stand of 96 through some smart batting with England’s bowlers looking bereft of ideas as the partnership grew.
All-rounder Ben Stokes then stole the show with two brilliant efforts in the field to help England breakthrough Sri Lanka’s resilience with a brace of wickets shortly before the lunch break.
Stokes sprinted from gully when de Silva prodded to the off side, picking the ball up with one hand and completing a run out with one stump to aim at to dismiss Karunaratne for 63.
Stokes was soon in the thick of things once more when he took a sharp one-handed catch at slip to dismiss Kusal Mendis for one-off left-arm spinner Jack Leach.
Leg-spinner Adil Rashid reaped rewards for his probing line and length when he induced an edge from de Silva, who made 59, with wicketkeeper Ben Foakes completing a smart catch.
Former captain Angelo Mathews fell in a similar fashion for 20 to Rashid with Foakes holding onto the catch at the second attempt.
Sri Lanka were tottering at 165-6 at that stage and needed a contribution from their lower order to stop England from gaining a sizeable advantage.
Niroshan Dickwella (26) and Roshen Silva proved up to the task with a 46-run stand for the seventh wicket before England captain Joe Root made the breakthrough by dismissing the former leg before.