Sri Lanka build impressive lead
Before play the Sri Lankan camp had spoken of wanting a minimum target of 250 to defend before unleashing Muttiah Muralitharan. There was one of two ways they could reach that mark; an innings of individual brilliance or a team effort. They took the latter route. Sangakkara sparkled in typical style, Mahela Jayawardene fought hard and Kapugedera produced a superbly mature innings at a vital time.
Crucially, Sangakkara and Upul Tharanga did not allow England the boost of an early wicket and ensured that they nullified the threat posed by Matthew Hoggard. Sangakkara showed the class which has been evident each time he's come to the crease and his driving off front and back foot was imperious as he notched his second fifty of the series from 108 balls. When Panesar was introduced as first change Tharanga used his feet, determined not to let him settle, punching him through the offside for a boundary then handsomely lofting a straight six.
But Panesar had his revenge three balls later when he returned to over the wicket and got a delivery to bounce as Tharanga went at it with hard hands. Worryingly for England, Panesar found turn not just from the footmarks but also from the unscuffed parts of the pitch. Sangakkara continued with his positive intent but again failed to convert an elegant innings into a substantial century. Andrew Flintoff put in another wholehearted display, despite carrying a problem with his ankle, shifting Sangakkara with one that slanted across and was taken at slip with a little bit of a wobble.
Sri Lanka then adjusted their order, moving Jayasuriya up one place to number No. 5, which kept the right-left combination at the crease. He creamed his first ball to the cover boundary but didn't last much longer. Facing his first delivery from Panesar, Jayasuriya went for a sweep and Darrell Hair decided he'd been hit on offstump. Panesar continued to impress with a probing spell, varying his pace and flight to stop the batsmen settling.
He turned to Liam Plunkett, who had bowled just two overs before the call from his captain, and it did the trick for England as Jayawardene relaxed and played an airy drive which left him disgusted. His frustration spilled over and he knocked out a stump with his bat as he headed off. A quick apology to the umpire followed, but the match referee will certainly be interested. It showed the tension in the contest and how much Sri Lanka are putting into trying to level the series.
Despite the captain's departure the lead continued to grow with Kapugedera settling in with some crisp strokes through the offside. His first 25 runs were vital because in match were scores have come slowly they arrived in just 32 balls, swinging the momentum back Sri Lanka's away, before being becalmed.
Dilshan could do little about his dismissal and the ball from Hoggard would have been good enough for better players. However, Farveez Maharoof, could have helped himself - if only he'd used his bat. Facing up to Panesar, he misjudged the line and opted to not play a shot and watched the timber get rearranged.
Kapugedera, given a life on 34 when Marcus Trescothick spilled a tough chance low to his right at first slip, gritted his way to a 117-ball fifty and along with Sri Lanka's batting sensation of the series - Chaminda Vaas - the pair achieved the team's aim of batting out the day. Anymore they can add in the morning will be a bonus; then the focus will be on one man and his magic.
Michael Vandort b Hoggard 5 (6 for 1)
Inside edge to an inswinger, through the gate
Upul Tharanga c Cook b Panesar 46 (100 for 2)
Inside-edge looped off pad to short leg
Kumar Sangakkara c Trescothick b Flintoff 66 (143 for 3)
Ball slanted across, think edge to wide first slip
Sanath Jayasuriya lbw b Panesar 4 (148 for 4)
Missed a sweep, long away down but hitting middle and leg
Mahela Jayawardene c Jones b Plunkett 45 (191 for 5)
Wide half-volley edged through
Tilkakartne Dilshan c Jones b Hoggard 32 (223 for 6)
Moved off seam, squared-up the batsman, thin edge
Farveez Maharoof b Panesar 6 (238 for 7)
Misjudged line and left straight one
Andrew McGlashan is editorial assistant of Cricinfo