Kumar Sangakkara scored a world record equalling half century as Sri Lanka reached 214-4 at the end of the third day to leave the second test against England delicately poised on Sunday.
Sangakkara became only the fourth player in test history to score seven successive half centuries as Sri Lanka threatened to take control but he fell for 55 as England took two late wickets to stall the visitors’ progress. Having earlier polished off England’s first innings for 365, Sri Lanka ended the day 106 runs ahead.
Sangakkara, who joined Everton Weekes, Shivnarine Chanderpaul and former England coach Andy Flower to score seven consecutive test half 50s, shared a 79-wicket third-wicket partnership with Mahela Jayawardene (55 not out). Part-time spinner Moeen Ali took two late wickets, however.
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After watching Sri Lanka’s bowlers get good movement on the flat Headingley pitch, England’s attack toiled as they struggled to find the right line and length to trouble the Sri Lanka duo.
With England desperate to break the partnership, captain Alastair Cook turned to Ali and the change of bowling brought about immediate rewards as he had Sangakkara trapped lbw for 55.
Within minutes Ali had his second wicket, beating Lahiru Thirimanne with a lofted ball that spun past the batsman’s tentative prod to remove his bails for a second duck of the match. England pressed but the determined Jayawardene reached his 48th test match 50.
Earlier, After resuming the day on 320 for six, England were torn apart by the Sri Lankan bowling attack with captain Mathews taking test-best figures of 4-44 and Shaminda Eranga taking 4-93. Sri Lanka needed just one hour of the morning session to bowl the hosts out as England lost their last eight wickets for 87 runs.
brief Scores: Sri Lanka 257 and 214/4 (K Sangakkara 55, M Jayawardene55 n.o, M Ali 2/26); England 365 (S. Robson 127, G. Ballance 74, I. Bell 64; A. Mathews 4/44, S. Eranga 4/93)