England's Test tour of Sri Lanka hit a low yesterday after injury scares to two key bowlers increased the agony of a miserable batting display in a practice match.
With Steve Harmison already a doubtful starter for the first Test in Kandy starting on Saturday due to back spasms, fellow paceman James Anderson was temporarily sidelined with an injury to his left ankle.
Anderson did not take the field in Sri Lanka Cricket XI's second innings after the tourists were shot out for 134 on the second day of the three-day match in Colombo.
Fast bowler Matthew Hoggard finally gave England reason to smile with a hostile opening spell late in the evening that produced five wickets, including three in one over.
The home team, who made 298-9 declared in the first innings, slumped to 77-8 in their second knock by stumps, a lead of 241 runs with the injured Kaushal Lokuarachchi unlikely to bat.
England will attempt to chase a morale-boosting win on the final day on a slow wicket on which 26 wickets have fallen on the first two days.
England's batting was left in disarray by a second-string attack in their last practice match before three back-to-back Tests.
Ravi Bopara top-scored with 47 as six batsmen failed to reach double figures and Harmison did not bat after suffering spasms in the lower back while bowling on the first day.
The 22-year-old Essex all-rounder hoping to make his Test debut after playing in 19 one-day internationals, was the lone batsman to defy the home team as wickets tumbled at the other end.
He then shared the new ball with Hoggard in the absence of Harmison and Anderson, and claimed Test contender Malinda Warnapura leg-before for four.
Hoggard bowled the in-form Upul Tharanga in his second over and removed captain Tillekeratne Dilshan, Jehan Mubarak and Chamara Kapugedara in the space of four balls in his fifth over.
Hoggard ended the day with 5-25 from nine overs.