Hoggard and Bopara star amid injuries
Sri Lanka Board President's XI 298 for 9 dec and 77 for 8 (Hoggard 5-25) lead England XI 134 (Bopara 47) by 241 runs
Matthew Hoggard demonstrated his imperturbability in the face of a bowling crisis, while Ravi Bopara rose to the occasion with both bat and - less expectedly - the new ball, as England's cricketers turned their fortunes upside down on a frenetic second day at the Nondescripts Cricket Club in Colombo.
At the tea break, England were bracing themselves for embarrassment. Their batting had imploded for 134, less than half the 298 for 9 on which their opponents had declared overnight, and to make matters worse, they had been reduced to a solitary fit fast bowler in Hoggard. With Steve Harmison already receiving treatment for a back spasm, James Anderson reported soreness in his left ankle while warming up in the innings break and took no further part in the day.
And so Hoggard did what he has done so often in the course of his 64-Test career, and hoisted the entire burden of the attack onto his own perpetually stooped shoulders. First, he inflicted Upul Tharanga's first failure in three innings by bowling him for 5, then he bagged three further wickets in four balls - Tillakaratne Dilshan edged low to Owais Shah at slip, Jehan Mubarak was trapped lbw for a second-ball duck, and Chamara Kapugedera fended his first delivery to Paul Collingwood in the gully.
In between whiles, Bopara, maintaining a brisk line and length, picked up a bonus wicket as Malinda Warnapura played across the line to a straight one. Hoggard then wrapped up a fine spell by removing the attritional young keeper, Kaushal Silva, with a thin nick to the keeper, and finished with the superb figures of 9-3-25-5.
Only the opener, Mahela Udawatte, showed any measure of control. He had negotiated his way to 45 from 83 deliveries before Bopara, who had earlier completed the run-out of de Silva, found the thinnest of edges through to Matt Prior. He was the eighth man out, and with Lokuarachchi in hospital, England needed just one more breakthrough to wrap up the innings, but Welegedera and Amerasinghe made it through to the close.
It was entertaining cricket, but it wasn't quite what England had had in mind when Michael Vaughan and Alastair Cook had walked out to open their innings at the start of play. This was meant to be a day in which the top-order gained valuable time in the middle ahead of next week's first Test at Kandy. Instead Vaughan fell for a duck, losing his off stump to a beauty from the left-armer Sujeewa de Silva, to set the tone for a day of batting collapses.
Ian Bell was the next to go, after a chaotic 16-ball innings in which he was dropped at slip on 1 and caught at square leg on 3 off a no-ball. de Silva made it third time lucky when he grazed the inside edge of a loose defensive stroke, before his fellow left-armer, Chanaka Welagedera, inflicted another failure on the out-of-form Kevin Pietersen. He was pinned lbw for 1.
Cook looked in fluent form for his 35, until he missed a sweep at Kaushal Lokuarachchi and was given out lbw, but Owais Shah at No. 5 looked anything but. With Bopara enhancing his claims for a Test spot with every passing minute, Shah required 34 balls and more than an hour at the crease before he recorded his first run, and was eventually bowled through the gate for 26 as he drove without conviction at Ishara Amerasinghe.
The pair had at least added an important 54 for the fifth wicket, but Bopara was the one to make his opportunity count. He survived one life on 17 when Lokuarachchi dropped a tough caught-and-bowled chance - so tough, in fact, that he was forced to leave the field with a broken finger. He picked off four fours in the course of his innings, including a pair of pulls off de Silva, and a half-century was there for the taking until he drove uppishly to short cover with only the tail for company.
England's tail, once again, did not cover itself in glory. Prior managed 10 from 27 balls before edging Kapugedera to first slip, while the remainder didn't manage a single run between them. Hoggard and Anderson were both bowled for ducks, and Harmison didn't come out to bat. The last four wickets fell for 11 runs in 20 balls and Muttiah Muralitharan will be licking his lips.
Andrew Miller is UK editor of Cricinfo