Off-spinner Graeme Swann struck twice in the space of 21 runs to leave Sri Lanka on the back foot in the second and final Test against England on Friday.
Swann grabbed the key wickets of Tillakaratne Dilshan and Kumar Sangakkara as the hosts,trailing by 185 runs on the first innings,struggled to 139-4 in their second knock by tea on the fourth day.
Skipper Mahela Jayawardene was unbeaten on 20 and Thilan Samaraweera was on 11,with Sri Lanka still 46 behind with six wickets in hand on the wearing P Sara Oval pitch.
England,beaten by 75 runs in the first Test in Galle,need a win to level the two-match series and retain their world number one Test ranking.
Dilshan was unfortunate to depart,caught in the slips off Swann,as TV replays proved inconclusive whether the ball had gone off the bat.
Third umpire Rod Tucker reviewed Dilshan’s challenge for more than five minutes before upholding on-field official Bruce Oxenford’s decision to give the batsman out.
Dilshan,who earlier in the day had been fined 10 percent of his match fee for excessive appealing in England’s first innings,walked off clearly unhappy with the decision.
Sri Lankan coach Graham Ford immediately went up to match referee Javagal Srinath to ask why the benefit of doubt had not been given to the batsman,as is the norm in cricket.
The infra-red Hot Spot technology,which could have determined an edge,is not being used for the series.
Dilshan,who made 35,has now gone 21 innings without a Test century since making 193 against England at Lord’s in June last year.
Later in the same over,Swann appealed for leg-before against Sangakkara,which Oxenford turned down. This time it was England’s turn to lose the review even though the ball clipped the off-bail.
But Sangakkara did not last long as he edged Swann to wicket-keeper Matt Prior after making 21,with Sri Lanka still 61 runs in arrears.
The left-hander,who had been dismissed first ball in two of the three previous innings,finished the series with a dismal average of 8.75.
Earlier,Lahiru Thirimanne and nightwatchman Dhammika Prasad,who saw off the lone over on Thursday evening,put on 23 for the first wicket before James Anderson struck the first blow.
Left-handed Thirimanne failed to take advantage of a missed stumping off Swann and edged Anderson to Andrew Strauss at first slip after making 11.
Prasad,a tailender who averaged 19.20 in his previous nine Tests,defied the England attack for 87 minutes and even helped himself to five boundaries.
He finally fell for 34 when an ambitious hook shot off Steven Finn landed safely in the hands of Tim Bresnan at deep square-leg.
Prasad was dropped twice in one Swann over,as Prior failed to glove a thick edge and Finn floored a waist-high catch at mid-off.