Sri Lanka dismissed the top three England batsmen within half an hour yesterday to fully justify their decision to field first on the opening day of the second Test at Lord’s.
Captain Andrew Strauss (4), Jonathan Trott (2) and Kevin Pietersen (2) were all back in the pavilion on a gloriously sunny morning before the first drinks break.
At lunch, England had rallied to 75 for three with Alastair Cook and Ian Bell both on 32. The early honors, though, went to Sri Lanka with Suranga Lakmal regularly beating the bat during a lengthy opening spell.
Sri Lanka, beaten by an innings in the first Test in Cardiff after a dismal collapse on Monday, responded by picking four pace bowlers and dropping spinner Ajantha Mendis, who no longer mystifies the England batsmen.
Tillakaratne Dilshan then backed his bowlers to exploit any early life in the pitch by asking England to bat after winning the toss.
After a cautious start, both the first two wickets fell to leg before wicket decisions.
Strauss missed a ball from Chanaka Welegedara, bowling lively left-arm from the Pavilion End, playing across the line to a ball which would have struck his leg stump.
Trott, who scored a double century in Cardiff, propped forward to a full-length delivery from Lakmal without moving his feet and was beaten by another ball destined to hit leg stump. The batsman asked for a referral, but the replay showed umpire Billy Doctrove had made the correct call.
Pietersen then reached for a ball from Lakmal wide of the off-stump and sliced it to the gully, where Dilshan gratefully seized a tumbling catch.
Bell confidently hooked his first delivery from Lakmal to the boundary, but he was also troubled by the late movement and was lucky two edges off the same bowler went to the boundary and not to hand.
He played two more authentic shots for off-side boundaries while Cook concentrated on survival at the other end.