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Magnificent Mathews leads by example

By Rob Barnett

Skipper Angelo Mathews superbly struck 160 as Sri Lanka turned the second Investec Test on its head to become firm favourites for a first Test series win in England.

Mathews’ highest international score underpinned a commanding second-innings total of 457, which set England a daunting 350 for victory at Headingley.

If hot conditions and a reasonable batting surface encouraged the hosts that it is an attainable target, paceman Dhammika Prasad dented this attitude with the first four wickets before England closed on 57 for five.

That score represents a scarcely-believable turnaround from little more than 48 hours earlier when Alastair Cook’s side were 311 for three in their first innings, leading by 54.

They were eventually limited to 365, but Sri Lanka’s continued recovery to 214 for four last night, 106 ahead, merely left the game in the balance.

While Mathews' brilliant batting today swung proceedings in his team’s favour, it took Prasad’s blistering figures of 4-15 from six overs and spinner Rangana Herath’s dismissal of nightwatchman Liam Plunkett in the last over to give Sri Lanka complete control.

Should they win tomorrow, when the weather is set fair in Leeds, they will complete a clean sweep of all formats against England on this tour.

Sri Lanka captain Angelo Mathews attacks during his blistering innings of 160 that was studded with 25 fours in addition to a maximum

Mathews, who started the day on 24, shared a fifty partnership with Mahela Jaywawardene and, much more surprisingly, a stunning 149-run alliance alongside Herath.

The captain passed his previous best of 157 not out, made in a Test versus Pakistan at Abu Dhabi in early January, with his 26th boundary but fell next ball.

Although Sri Lanka were soon all out, England’s toil carried on. Following a solid opening stand between Cook and first-innings centurion Sam Robson, Prasad struck twice in two balls during his opening over.

Cook was unfortunate to play on from a pull for 24, yet Gary Ballance could do nothing about an inswinger that trapped him in front.

Robson edged to second slip on 16 before Ian Bell was beaten between bat and pad. Plunkett and Root used reviews to overturn verdicts against them, but the former tamely chipped Herath to cover to end a disappointing two days for England.

Jayawardene, resuming with 55, and Mathews had given Sri Lanka a strong start to day four. The experienced pair found regular boundaries to smoothly add 54 runs today.

They soon shared the third fifty partnership of the innings before England took the second new ball at the earliest opportunity and Mathews raised a half-century.

The hosts broke through at the end of the first hour, James Anderson having Jayawardene caught behind for 79 to end an alliance of 92.

Plunkett then struck twice in two balls for the second time in the match to swing the momentum back towards England.

Dhammika Prasad pins Gary Ballance in front for his second scalp in two balls before he went on to record sublime figures of 4-15

Dinesh Chandimal was caught on the hook and Prasad held at third man, from excellent catches by Plunkett’s Yorkshire team-mates Ballance and Root respectively.

If England thought Sri Lanka’s tail would quickly fold, Herath had other ideas as, after a shaky start, he offered sound support to Mathews.

Although Mathews mainly farmed the strike, Herath adeptly held up one end while his skipper went to three figures, for the second time in two innings, with a series of attacking strokes including a flicked leg-side six off Plunkett.

Facing Moeen Ali’s spin, Herath survived an lbw review, England’s last, and a chance for a catch as wicketkeeper Matt Prior dived to his right but could not quite cling on.

Herath by now had his eye in and raised the hundred partnership with a pulled four off Stuart Broad.

Mathews and Herath then cut loose until the latter was run out from the last ball of the afternoon session. Mathews, having just struck Moeen for two consecutive fours to move to 149, changed his mind over a single to mid-on and Root’s direct-hit did for the non-striker on 48.

England briefly regretted using their reviews when Billy Bowden did not spot Shaminda Ernaga’s edge behind off Anderson.

But Mathews, having hit 25 fours along with his maximum, soon tamely chipped Anderson to Moeen at midwicket.

Although Ernaga then quickly flayed four fours en route to 20, Anderson comprehensively yorked Nuwan Pradeep to end the innings.

Match Scorecard Live ball-by-ball commentary

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Evening Session

England 2nd Innings

Highlights from the evening session at Headingley where England lost five wickets

6.30pm – WICKET & STUMPS! Plunkett c Pradeep b Herath 0; England 57/5 – Herath tosses one up to the right-hander, who is beaten in the flight and chips to cover. That ends what has emphatically been Sri Lanka’s day. England need another 293 to win.

6.25pm – REVIEW! Prasad digs one in at Root’s ribs on the way through to gloveman Dinesh Chandimal, and Bowden gives it out. Root reviews and the technology shows the ball narrowly missed his gloves before brushing his shirt. Root responds by driving Prasad down the ground for four.

6.17pm – REVIEW & CHANCE! Prasad thinks he has Plunkett caught behind first ball, but the batsman immediately reviews. Replays and Hot-Spot show he hit the ground rather than edging the ball. Two deliveries later Plunkett nicks low to second slip where Jayawardene can’t hold on.

6.13pm – WICKET! Bell b Prasad 8; Eng 52/4 - After Herath makes it back-to-back maidens, this time bowling to Joe Root, Prasad brings one back in to Bell, beating the right-hander between bat and pad to hit off stump. England are in trouble now. Nightwatchman Liam Plunkett is the new man.

6.01pm – WICKET! Robson c Jayawardene b Prasad 24 ; Eng 50/3 - Robson edges Prasad to second slip where Mahela Jayawardene holds on to his right. The umpires check for a front-foot no-ball, but Robson is on his way. Suddenly Herath is getting big turn, beating Bell’s outside edge in a dangerous maiden.

5.42pm – WICKET! Ballance lbw Prasad 0; Eng 39/2 - Left-handed Gary Ballance is trapped in front first ball by a beautiful inswinger that hit the front pad just before the inside edge. Ballance does not review. Ian Bell works the hat-trick ball to leg for one.

5.40pm – WICKET! Cook b Prasad 16; Eng 39/1 - Dhammika Prasad is introduced for the first time and gets Cook with his third ball. The left-hander goes to pull but plays on to his stumps, which are splayed.

5.26pm – Cook and Robson are looking solid. It’s 32 for none from 12 overs. Robson then cover-drives Herath for four before surviving an lbw shout that brought no review.

5.14pm – Angelo Mathews soon introduces spin, with Rangana Herath delivering a testing first over. It’s a double bowling change as Mathews himself enters the attack.

5.04pm – Following Eranga’s threatening maiden to Robson, Cook pulls Pradeep for an aerial four to pass Geoff Boycott as England’s fifth-highest Test scorer. Robson, a first-innings centurion, sweetly cover-drives Eranga for four.

4.45pm – Cook dominates the strike as Pradeep and Eranga keep it tight. The pitch is beginning to deteriorate, including the foot-holds which get some attention at the end of an over.

4.38pm – England start their pursuit of 350 to take the series facing Nuwan Pradeep. Shaminda Eranga shares the new ball. Sam Robson and Alastair Cook are both off the mark.

Sri Lanka 2nd Innings

4.25pm – SRI LANKA 457 ALL OUT SO ENGLAND NEED 350 TO WIN!! WICKET! Pradeep b Anderson 0 - Eranga continues the onslaught with two fours off each of Liam Plunkett and Anderson. However, Anderson comprehensively yorks Nuwan Pradeep first ball to end Sri Lanka’s excellent second innings. Eranga is unbeaten on 20.

4.17pm – WICKET! Mathews c Moeen b Anderson 160; SL 437/9 - The right-hander cover-drives Anderson for his 26th boundary to get his highest Test score, but next ball chips a full-toss tamely to midwicket. He deservedly gets a standing ovation as he walks off.

4.13pm – Mathews advances to Moeen and hits four over midwicket. From the last ball of the over he inside-edges a streaky single to fine-leg.

4.05pm – Angelo Mathews goes to 150 with a single to leg off Moeen Ali. He is seven short of his best international score, made versus Pakistan at Abu Dhabi in early January.

3.59pm – James Anderson starts the day’s last session bowling to new man Shaminda Ernaga, who edges behind but is given not-out by Billy Bowden. England have no reviews left so can do nothing about it. It’s not been the hosts’ day.

Afternoon Session

Angelo Mathews and Rangana Herath put on 149 as Sri Lanka dominate the afternoon session

3.38pm – WICKET & TEA! Herath run out 48; Sri Lanka 426/8 – Having taken Anderson for four the over before, Mathews comes down the track to smite Moeen for two back-to-back fours. But next ball, the last before the interval, he plays to mid-on and changes his mind over a single, stranding Herath who is run out by Root’s direct hit. England will be mightily relieved to break the stand at 149, with Mathews on 149 and the tourists remarkably 318 ahead.

3.21pm – Mathews cuts Moeen and thick-edges the returning James Anderson for his 19th and 20th boundaries. Herath then sweeps Moeen for four just before the score reaches 400 for seven. In the next over, bowled by Anderson, Herath gets two consecutive fours behind square, one on each side of the wicket to reach 47.

3.04pm – HUNDRED PARTNERSHIP! Herath has his eye in! The diminutive number nine pulls and cover-drives Broad to the rope. The first of those fours raised an astonishing century alliance. Sri Lanka are ahead by 274.

2.59pm – CHANCE! After Mathews strikes Broad for four over mid-off, Herath immediately slog-sweeps Moeen and gets an under-edge on to his pad that loops to leg where wicketkeeper Matt Prior can’t quite hold on with a diving effort. To rub salt in the wound, Hearth soon cuts the spinner for four to move to 25.

2.53pm – REVIEW! Moeen has an lbw shout against Hearth, on 21, turned down so England opt for another look. The left-hander was hit in the mid-riff in line with the stumps but the ball was going fractionally over. That’s the hosts’ last review for now.

2.42pm – Stuart Broad takes over from Jordan, and Mathews whacks four through mid-on despite the diving effort of Cook. The tourists lead by 253.

2.29pm – Alastair Cook turns to spin, with Moeen Ali replacing Plunkett. Moeen starts with a tight over. With Jordan continuing, Mathews hits the seamer over his head for a one-bounce four.

2.17pm – CENTURY! Mathews (153b 14x4 1x6) - Following a Jordan maiden to Herath, Mathews takes a single to deep cover from the first ball of Plunkett’s over to reach his fourth Test ton and second in two innings. Sri Lanka are 237 in front.

2.12pm – Plunkett persists in coming round the wicket to Mathews and is upper-cut for four, moving the skipper to 99.

2.03pm – Mathews hits a Plunkett full-toss between mid-on and midwicket to move into the 90s. Herath then takes three and Mathews four, both to leg, off Jordan.

1.54pm – CHANCE! Plunkett persists in bowling round the wicket and short to Mathews but is initially ‘wided’ by the umpire. Mathews then pulls for four and on 87 offers a sharp return catch that the bowler cannot hold. In the next over Herath survives Jordan’s lbw shout, top-edges a hook for four and cuts another boundary, heralding the fourth fifty partnership of the innings.

1.42pm – We are back under way with Liam Plunkett bowling round the wicket to Angelo Mathews. Plunkett appeals for caught behind from a bouncer but it is given not-out and England opt not to review. Mathews then gives himself room and gets four through point. Rangana Herath then plays out a maiden to Chris Jordan.

Morning Session

England took three quick wickets during the morning session on the penultimate day at Headingley

1.01pm  LUNCH! Sri Lanka 311/7; Mathews 79, Herath 7 - Herath shows some batting ability by pulling Broad for four to take the lead over 200. The tourists are 203 in front at the interval.

12.57pm – Herath will face the last over before lunch, to be bowled by Broad.

12.45pm – Mathews is trying to keep as much of the strike as possible. The skipper cuts Broad for four but cannot get a single from the next ball, so Herath is on strike versus Plunkett.

12.36pm – CHANCE! Herath confirms Mathews’ fears with a bizarre shot, chipping Plunkett over extra-cover where Broad cannot get there as he runs towards the boundary.

12.29pm – Mathews, realising the tail may fold quickly, looks to attack and flicks Plunkett for a leg-side six. The captain then smashes Anderson down the ground for four and glances another boundary to fine-leg.

12.18pm – Rangana Herath survives the hat-trick ball, pulling it to square-leg for no run.

12.15pm – WICKET! Prasad c Root b Plunkett 0; SL 277/7 - Plunkett has two in two for the second time in the Test. Dhammika Prasad is discomforted by a short ball at his throat and loops a catch to third man, where Joe Root does brilliantly to run in and hold on. Suddenly the tourists’ lead of 169 looks fragile.

12.13pm – WICKET! Chandimal c Ballance b Plunkett 7; SL 277/6 - Plunkett replaces Broad. Chandimal hooks the new bowler to deep square-leg where Gary Ballance holds an excellent, low catch.  

12.08pm – REVIEW! Anderson strikes Chandimal on the pad, knocking the right-hander off his feet. England review but the ball was going comfortably down leg.

12.03pm – New man Dinesh Chandimal, Sri Lanka’s last recognised batsman, is fortunate to get off the mark when he loops Broad to a vacant cover-point region. Mathews then works Anderson off his hips for four.

11.57am – WICKET! Jayawardene c Prior b Anderson 79; SL 268/5 - Pressure from Anderson and Broad tells when Jayawardene drives outside off and edges through to wicketkeeper Matt Prior. That’s the breakthrough England craved. Sri Lanka lead by 160.

11.48am – FIFTY! Mathews (81b 6x4 0x6) – The skipper raises an important half-century, the tourists’ third of the innings.

11.44am – CHANCE! Jayawardene cuts Broad low towards gully, where Ian Bell is now fielding. Bell cannot grasp a fiendish opportunity during a maiden with the batsman on 79.

11.38am – Jayawardene guides a short Anderson delivery to the unguarded third-man boundary, taking Sri Lanka’s lead past 150. The veteran then flicks a straighter Anderson ball to the fine-leg rope.

11.28am – Following an over of spin from Moeen Ali, which Mathews started by cutting a four, the new ball is taken at the earliest opportunity with James Anderson getting first use. Stuart Broad shares it, beating Mathews when the right-hander plays a wild drive.

11.19am – Jayawardene drives loosely at Plunkett and edges fractionally short of James Anderson, diving to his right at gully. Facing Jordan, Jayawardene then repeats his elegant four.

11.11am – Angelo Mathews powerfully punches Plunkett off the back foot for the day’s first four, raising a fifty partnership – Sri Lanka’s third of the innings. Mahela Jayawardene then creams Jordan to the cover boundary.

11.01am – We are under way with in-form Liam Plunkett opening the bowling, with an over costing five. Chris Jordan partners him. A new ball was due in seven overs from today’s start. It looks like Alastair Cook is saving James Anderson and Stuart Broad for that.

Pre-Play News

10.50am – We spoke to Moeen about his double breakthrough, Liam Plunkett’s outstanding bowling and the state of this match. Here’s what he said.

10.40am – Yesterday Sri Lanka continued their comeback in this game, quickly taking England’s last four wickets and then gradually wiping out a first-innings deficit of 108. Fifties from Kumar Sangakkara and Mahela Jayawardene, the latter’s unbeaten, helped to put the tourists 106 ahead. Were it not for Moeen Ali’s two strikes in three balls, Sri Lanka’s position would be even better. Read about an enthralling day three here. Here it is in pictures.

10.30am – Hello and welcome to our coverage of what will be another intriguing day in this Test and short series, which will be decide today or tomorrow at Headingley.

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