|Second Test, Chester-le-Street, day three:|
|England 498-9 dec: Moeen 155*, Hales 83, Root 80|
|Sri Lanka 101 (Broad 4-40) & 309-5 (f/o): Mathews 80, Silva 60, Chandimal 54*|
|Sri Lanka trail by 88 runs|
A belated Sri Lanka fightback delayed England’s victory push on the third day of the second Test.
Forced to follow on 397 behind after being bowled out for only 101, the tourists battled hard to reach 309-5 – trailing by 88 at Chester-le-Street.
Captain Angelo Mathews made a counter-attacking 80, Kaushal Silva 60 and Dinesh Chandimal an unbeaten 54.
James Anderson ended the day with two wickets and Chris Woakes, Steven Finn and Moeen Ali one apiece.
As well as Sri Lanka batted on an admittedly placid surface, a second successive innings victory for England – and a series triumph – remains the most likely outcome.
There is no rain forecast on Monday, the second new ball is only four overs old and Rangana Herath – boasting a Test average of 13 – is the next batsman in at number eight.
But Mathews and his players deserve considerable credit for the manner in which they took the game into a fourth day given that their previous highest total in three attempts was 119.
Silva shows his mettle
Broad and Anderson needed only four overs to claim the remaining two Sri Lanka wickets after they resumed on 91-8.
However, demonstrating the sort of application which had been sorely lacking this summer, Sri Lanka batted for 84 overs at the second attempt – more than they managed in the entire Headingley Test.
Opener Silva provided the bulk of the early resistance to an England attack that struggled to extract pace or sideways movement from an occasionally two-paced surface.
He was assisted by Dimuth Karunaratne and Kusal Mendis, both of whom made 26 before falling to edges off Woakes and Anderson respectively.
Compact in defence and driving especially well through the covers, Silva brought up a 111-ball half-century after the left-handed Lahiru Thirimanne was bowled by a beautiful delivery from Moeen that turned past his forward prod to hit the top of off stump.
Mathews follows Silva’s lead
If Silva’s innings was notable for its watchfulness, Mathews adopted a more aggressive approach.
Having survived a missed stumping by Jonny Bairstow on 36, he dominated a fourth-wicket stand of 82 with Silva, showing particular disdain for Moeen’s off-spin as he used his feet to good effect.
The departure of Silva, who spooned a catch behind off a leading edge from the otherwise unthreatening Finn, only marginally checked Mathews’ momentum.
But even after the skipper was caught behind poking at one from Anderson that he could have left, Chandimal and Milinda Siriwardana survived the remaining 20 overs of the day.
Chandimal, mixing agricultural mows over mid-wicket with sparkling drives, brought up his half-century three overs before the close, while the more circumspect Siriwardana played an equally important part in an unbroken sixth-wicket partnership that is worth 87.
‘It’s the only good day Sri Lanka have had’
England’s Steven Finn on BBC Test Match Special: “Sri Lanka fought hard on what is a good wicket.
“For them to be bowled out for 101 in the first innings was an anomaly. We’re going to have to work hard for these five wickets tomorrow.”
Sri Lanka’s Kaushal Silva: “Compared to the last three innings, we were really positive.
“The wicket is spinning. If we can get 150-200 runs lead, that would be very competitive for us.”
Former England batsman Geoffrey Boycott: “A very good day’s cricket – good for Sri Lanka as a team. They showed some fight and determination.
“The difference today was the technique of the batsmen, starting with Silva. A lot of their batsmen moved their feet better.
“There was a competition out there for once. It’s probably the only good day Sri Lanka have had.”
BBC cricket correspondent Jonathan Agnew: “Mathews is a really fierce competitor and a good all-round cricketer. He won’t be happy with the way this tour has gone.
“Sri Lanka have shown much more resilience with the bat but England’s bowlers look a bit jaded.”
The stats you may have missed
- England’s first-innings lead of 397 was their biggest in Tests against Sri Lanka
- Sri Lanka are the first team since 1958 to be bowled out for less than 120 in three consecutive Test innings
- The last time England enforced the follow-on in consecutive Tests was against Bangladesh in 2010
- Jonny Bairstow has 16 dismissals in two Tests, one short of Geraint Jones’ England record for a three-match series