England 486ao (Prior 126, Cook 96, Morgan 79, Welegedara 4-122)
Sri Lanka 479ao (Dilshan 193, Paranavitana 65, M Jayawardene 49, Finn 4-108)
England 149-2 (Cook 61*, Trott 58, Pietersen 15*, Herath 1-17)
The hosts reduced Sri Lanka’s promising overnight position to a first innings deficit, and began to build a strong score; with one day’s play remaining, the draw looks inevitable.
There were some decent performances from England’s players today, but it was really a day without stars. Swann bowled well to the tail and took a fine catch, while Alastair Cook is sitting pretty and secure with yet another Test half-century to his name. Even Steven Finn, despite throwing plenty more down leg, has a claim after taking the big wickets of the Jayawardene non-brothers. For Sri Lanka, Herath batted aggresively and took the wicket of Jonathan Trott – who’d batted pretty well until then.
On balance, Player of the Day is awarded to Alastair Cook. With Strauss losing his wicket straight away, the innings needed solidity. England’s maturing master was there to provide it. Who would bet against another ton up tomorrow?
A beauty from Welegedara to remove Andrew Strauss with the second ball of the innings. It angled in then straightened violently to trap England’s captain LBW. Many are now talking about a weakness in the opener’s game, but today he was simply done by a pearl. The only criticism would be of his weak decision to throw away a review. And we can all forgive him after a commendable catch taken off Swann to remove Fernando.
Having batted out the day, it would be nice to see Kevin Pietersen get established and build a score tomorrow, and Cook should be expected to carry on for a while longer. With so many capable batsmen to come in, England will be confident of staying in for as long as they’d like to. Will we see a mid-afternoon declaration, followed by an attempt to recreate the final-session heroics of Cardiff? We just might. Will Sri Lanka fall like flies again? Well, while their tail is about as convincing as a kettle made of ice cubes, they just might not. The match looks set for a draw, and on to the Third Test.