Sri Lanka captain Tillakaratne Dilshan continued the tourists’ recovery against England by advancing to his Test-best score at Lord’s yesterday.
Dilshan’s 187 not out led Sri Lanka to 344 for two in reply to England’s 486, a deficit of 142 runs, at lunch on the third day of the second Test.
It also left Dilshan in sight of the highest Test score by a Sri Lankan at Lord’s, 190 by Sidath Wettimuny in his Test debut at “the home of cricket” in 1984.
Meanwhile Mahela Jayawardene, both of whose two previous Lord’s Tests had yielded centurys, was unbeaten on 25. Kumar Sangakkara was the only batsman dismissed in yesterday’s first session after fast bowler Chris Tremlett made an early breakthrough with the new ball.
Sri Lanka resumed on 231 for one — a marked contrast to their previous innings of 82 all out that led to England’s innings and 14-run win in Cardiff in the first of this three-match series.
Dilshan was 127 not out and Sangakkara 13 not out as they set about closing in on an England first innings total where Matt Prior made 126.
England, in the absence of injured swing specialist James Anderson, had opted for three giant pacemen in Tremlett, Stuart Broad and the recalled Steven Finn.
The trio, and indeed off-spinner Graeme Swann, endured a frustrating Saturday, with the seamers unable to find a consistent line on a good pitch.
Yesterday though offered overcast, swing-friendly skies.
However, Dilshan, before the new ball was taken, cut Swann and next ball drove him through the covers for successive fours.
A single off Swann then saw Dilshan to 150 in 192 balls with two sixes and 15 fours. England took the new ball as soon as it was available, after 80 overs, with Sri Lanka 285 for one and four balls later Tremlett struck when Sangakka edged a delivery angled across him to wicketkeeper Prior.
The left-hander managed just 26 in nearly two hours, but the run-rate climbed quickly after his exit.
Dilshan pulled Broad for four to go to his Test-best score, surpassing the 168 he made against Bangladesh in Colombo in 2005.
Then Jayawardene, ominously for England, got off the mark with a leg-glance boundary off Tremlett, before helping Dilshan put on a half-century at better than a run-a-ball.