The scalps of Kumar Sangakkara and Lahiru Thirimanne left the tourists on 214-4 in their second innings, a lead of 106, after they had threatened to take a firm grip on the contest. Sangakkara’s 55, which brought up a Test record equalling seventh consecutive half-century, and Mahela Jayawardene’s 55 not out put Sri Lanka in a strong position on day three.
England had lost their remaining four wickets for 87 in the morning session, completing a tumble from 278-2 to 365 all out. Only Matt Prior’s 27 not out offered resistance as seamers Angelo Mathews, who took a career-best 4-44, and Shaminda Eranga (4-93) curtailed the hosts’ first-innings advantage.
Chris Jordan (17) and James Anderson (0) fell to Eranga, while captain Mathews claimed Stuart Broad (4) and Liam Plunkett (2).
Sri Lanka then frustrated England’s bowlers by reaching lunch without loss, Jordan fumbling one presentable chance for a catch. Plunkett struck in the 21st over when he enticed Kaushal Silva (13) to edge behind to wicketkeeper Prior, and the same combination removed Dimuth Karunaratne five runs short of a half-century.
Sangakkara and Jayawardene saw Sri Lanka to tea on 99-2, but Moeen, bowling only the second over of the tourists’ second innings, succeeded with off-spin where the seamers had failed, trapping Sangakkara lbw and then bowling Thirimanne for a duck.