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June 4, 2011
Sri Lanka 231 for 1 (Dilshan 127*, Sangakkara 13*) trail England 486 (Prior 126, Cook 96, Morgan 79, Broad 54, Bell 52, Welegedara 4-122) by 255 runs
Scorecard and ball-by-ball details
News : Dilshan in doubt for series decider
Features : Dilshan's vivid riposte to the sceptics
News : Prior bullish despite tough day
Features : Prior's luck, Dilshan's pluck
Matches: England v Sri Lanka at Lord's
Series/Tournaments: Sri Lanka tour of England and Scotland
Even in good batting conditions, for a team who were bowled out for 82 five days ago to reach 231 for 1 when the opposition have amassed 486 shows they have plenty of fighting spirit. Tillakaratne Dilshan led the way for Sri Lanka at Lord's with an unbeaten captain's innings of 127, in a record opening stand of 207 alongside Tharanga Paranavitana, to ensure England toiled after enjoying a fine morning when Matt Prior hit 126.
Dilshan showed real emotion when he cut Steven Finn for his 11th boundary to raise Test hundred number 12, pumping his fist and punching the Sri Lankan badge. It has been a difficult week for the captain, who was at a loss to explain what happened on the final day in Cardiff, and his problems continued when England recovered from 22 for 3 in their first innings here. He doesn't have a huge amount of bowling resources on offer - the disappointing fielding will have been a greater annoyance - but where Sri Lanka should be able to compete is in the batting.
It looked as though they would when they posted 400 in the first innings at Cardiff, but their later capitulation threatened to leave scars for the rest of the series. England went for three tall quicks to exploit their perceived weakness, but with the sun on their backs the openers showed there were few devils facing them as they compiled Sri Lanka's highest first-wicket stand against England. It was also the third time on tour the pair had added a double-century opening partnership.
They were helped by the bowling attack being collectively below par. Chris Tremlett was poor with the new ball, Stuart Broad couldn't make early inroads and Finn struggled for consistency. Dilshan, unsurprisingly, did most of the early scoring, including a top-edge for six off Tremlett, while Paranavitana made 5 from his first 41 deliveries. Finn, on his return to the team, should have broken through but Alastair Cook spilled a regulation chance at third slip when Paranavitana was on 13 and later the left hander was almost run out on 48.
Dilshan, too, was offered a reprieve on 80 when he got a thin edge off Graeme Swann which Prior couldn't gather to blot his copybook. Swann's duel with Dilshan was an engrossing battle and earlier there had almost been a stumping chance when the ball was jabbed into the batsman's boot but it rolled wide of Prior. Dilshan was eager to dominate the contest and lofted a six into the pavilion which struck an MCC member.
Dilshan also took a painful blow on the thumb in Tremlett's first over after tea, for which he was sent for a precautionary scan at the close of play. Nothing, however, broke his concentration as he picked off anything remotely loose. Yet Paranavitana's role should not be underestimated. He is a perfect foil for the aggressive Dilshan and doesn't get caught up trying to match his flamboyant partner. A 142-ball fifty was 13 more deliveries than Dilshan needed for three figures but the value was the same. However, like in Cardiff, a loose shot undid the hard work when he drove at a wide ball from Finn and edged to first slip.
However, such is the terrific platform Sri Lanka have they will now have designs on batting past England in a role reversal of Cardiff. That is some way off, but after dominating the morning session convincingly by collecting 144 runs in 25 overs - and the last five wickets added 285 - there is plenty for the hosts to ponder.
Prior, though, played a fine innings. His 126 made it consecutive Test hundreds after his 118 against Australia, at Sydney, in January as England's lower order gave another strong argument of being the best in the world. However, he had more than the occasional moment of fortune and was given a helping hand towards three figures.
On 86 he edged past a diving Prasanna Jayawardene, then on 94 Mahela Jayawardene spilled a simple chance at second slip and one run later another edge chance flew between the keeper and first slip as neither moved. Three of the chances came off the luckless Suranga Lakmal, during a four-over spell that cost 40 runs, and next ball Prior worked a single to reach his second Lord's hundred from 107 balls.
It had been Broad who set the tone for England's rapid-scoring morning as he took two boundaries in the opening over from Chanaka Welegedara. This was only Broad's second Test innings since his 169 here against Pakistan - his only other knock being a first-ball duck in Brisbane - and, as he was last year, he was strong on the pull and drive.
His fifty came from 47 deliveries but he fell four balls later as Welegedara managed to get one straight in a very similar dismissal to Andrew Strauss yesterday morning. Welegedara, the pick of Sri Lanka's bowlers, made it two wickets in the over when Swann edged to first slip although Prasanna did his best to put off the catcher by diving across in front of Paranavitana.
Still, England motored on as Tremlett offered Prior further support. Prior continued to pepper the boundary despite a deep-set field before he was finally bowled in Rangana Herath's first over when he went for a sweep. By the end of the day it was looking as though England will be grateful for all his runs.
Andrew McGlashan is an assistant editor at ESPNcricinfoFeeds: Andrew McGlashan
© ESPN Sports Media Ltd.
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