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Moeen brace boosts England

By Rob Barnett

Moeen Ali struck twice in three balls across two overs to undermine Sri Lanka’s continued fightback on day three at Headingley.

The spinner, who had delivered only two previous overs in the innings, trapped Kumar Sangakkara lbw for 55 and bowled Lahiru Thirimanne for his second duck of the match.

Sri Lanka closed on 214 for four, 106 ahead, with half-centurion Mahela Jayawardene and captain Angelo Mathews at the crease. They will be crucial to the tourists’ victory chances in the Test and the series that concludes with this game.

Mathews’ side extended a riposte that started when Sam Robson was out for 127 yesterday. Having reduced England from 278 for two to 320 for six at stumps on day two, they dismissed the hosts for 365 midway through today’s morning session.

The Sri Lankan batsmen then produced a series of partnerships that frustrated Alastair Cook’s team, with the pitch much less helpful to bowlers than earlier in the day.

Sangakkara, who made his seventh straight Test score of 50 or more, equalling the world record and becoming the fourth player to do so, was involved in two half-century alliances, first with Dimuth Karunaratne and then Jayawardene.

Moeen Ali has Kumar Sangakkara lbw for 55, despite a review, the first of his two scalps in three balls that turned the Test in England's favour after Sri Lanka battled back again today at Headingley

Liam Plunkett got the first two breakthroughs, his sixth and seventh of the Test, having openers Kaushal Silva and Karunaratne caught behind, the former in regulation fashion and the latter down leg for 45 despite a review.

Like Moeen and Plunkett, Mathews and Shaminda Eranga also struck twice today. They exploited favourable seam-bowling conditions this morning to double their overnight tallies with four scalps each.

The first off all those wickets was Chris Jordan, who enjoyed a life yesterday and today but edged Eranga to second slip on 17.

Mathews had Stuart Broad held at gully and produced a pearler to flatten Plunkett’s middle stump before Eranga’s vicious bouncer saw James Anderson caught and bowled.

Matt Prior, who smote Eranga for six over mid-on, was unbeaten on 27 as Mathews returned 4-44 and Eranga 4-93.

Jordan missed an early chance to oust Karunaratne, shelling a chest-high opportunity at second slip as Sri Lanka reached lunch without loss.

England profited from bowling a fuller length after the interval. Plunkett, following a failed lbw review against Silva, made the initial breakthrough. 

Karunaratne and Sangakkara responded with a smooth stand, which Plunkett broke when the former gloved a catch behind down leg. Karunaratne reviewed, perhaps thinking his glove was off the bat handle, but in vain.

Following tea Sangakkara, who overtook Jacques Kallis as the third-highest scorer in international cricket, drove Plunkett for four through extra-cover to earn a lead.

Soon after his fifty partnership with Jaywardene arrived, the left-hander made it seven half-centuries in a row.

Sangakkara was lbw despite playing forward to Moeen, who then snared Thirimanne with a beauty that drifted in and beat the outside edge to hit middle stump.

Jayawardene, having survived an lbw review from Broad, belied scratchy form to raise a half-century in the closing overs.

Match Scorecard Live ball-by-ball commentary

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Evening Session

Highlights from the evening session where Moeen Ali dismissed Sangakkara and Thirimanne in quick succession

Sri Lanka 2nd Innings

6.30pm – STUMPS! Sri Lanka 214/4; Jayawardene 55, Mathews 24 – With Plunkett having delivered one last over today, Mathews edges and drives the first two balls of the last set of six, bowled by Jordan, for four. The tourists lead by 106. Tomorrow will be another intriguing day.

6.16pm – Moeen and Jordan keep it tight with stumps approaching, Jayawardene and Mathews appearing content to play for the close.

6.08pm – FIFTY! Jayawardene (103b 5x4 0x6) – Jordan succeeds Plunkett and, after the youngster’s maiden to Mathews, a slightly out-of-touch Jayawardene clips Moeen’s full-toss to long-on to reach a valuable half-century.

5.59pm – Plunkett is now partnering Mooen, and the seamer is on-driven to the boundary by Angelo Mathews.

5.46pm – REVIEW! Jayawardene is hit on the pad by Broad’s full-toss. England appeal for lbw and then ask for another look. The ball beat the bat but was only clipping leg stump, according to Hawk-Eye, so the batsman survives on 45. That was either side’s last review for now.

5.37pm – WICKET! Thirimanne b Moeen 0; SL 176/4 - Following Jayawardene’s cut for four off Broad, Moeen produces a beauty that drifts into the left-handed Lahiru Thirimanne, beats his bat and hits middle stump. That is Thirimanne’s second duck of the Test and the Worcestershire spinner’s second strike in three deliveries! Suddenly, Sri Lanka’s lead of 68 does not look so healthy.

5.31pm – REVIEW & WICKET! Sangakkara lbw Moeen 55; SL 172/3 - Sangakkara plays forward to Moeen Ali, in his second over after replacing Anderson, but is struck on the pad and given out. Jayawardene advises him to review, but is makes no difference as he was hit in line and a small inside edge came after ball struck pad. The stand was worth 79.

5.15pm – After Jayawardene puts an Anderson half-volley away to the cover boundary, Broad discomforts the right-hander who loops the ball between gully and point.

5.03pm – FIFTY! Sangakkara (91b 6x4 0x6) – That’s the left-hander’s seventh consecutive half-century in Tests, equalling the world record!

4.54pm – James Anderson takes over from Jordan and is crisply straight-driven down the ground by Sangakkara. Jayawardene then cuts Broad to the rope, raising a fifty partnership.

4.48pm – Sangakkara moves on to 40. He is close to becoming the fourth player to make seven straight scores of 50 or more in Tests.

4.40pm – Stuart Broad has replaced Plunkett. Either side of Jordan’s runless over to Jayawardene, Broad shows a few signs of slightly variable bounce.

4.25pm – Jordan, whose previous over was a maiden to Mahela Jayawardene, is cut by the number four over the slips and to the boundary.

4.13pm – Kumar Sangakkara punches Plunkett through extra-cover for four, putting Sri Lanka two runs ahead. Any more runs they score now, England will have to knock off to win the series.

4.03pm – In-form Liam Plunkett continues after tea on his home ground. He is partnered by Chris Jordan.

Afternoon Session

Highlights from the afternoon session at Headingley which included two wickets for Liam Plunkett

3.43pm – TEA! Sri Lanka 99/2; Sangakkara 26, Jayawardene 3 – Moeen bowls just one over for now as Jordan joins Plunkett in keeping it tight until the interval. Just before the break, Prior dives to his left and is painfully struck on the left glove. He continues and Sri Lanka trail by nine.

3.26pm – REVIEW & WICKET! Karunaratne c Prior b Plunkett 45; SL 93/2 - After an over of spin from Moeen Ali, Plunkett returns and digs one in at the left-hander with the ball going through to Prior down leg. The batsman is given out but reviews, although replays and Hot Spot show the ball brushed the bottom glove.

3.13pm – Broad and Plunkett continue to keep it fairly tight, the former sending down a maiden to Sangakkara. Soon after, the second-wicket pair share a fifty partnership. The tourists are now 17 behind.

2.53pm – Following a tight Jordan over to Karunaratne, seven runs come from the last two balls off Broad as the opener gets three through midwicket and Sangakkara sweetly off-drives for four. Sri Lanka now trail by 49.

2.40pm – Stuart Broad takes over from Plunkett and starts with a runless over to Sangakkara.

2.29pm – Sangakkara, who is in brilliant form, negotiates a Plunkett maiden before unleashing another cover-drive off Plunkett that races to the rope. Karunaratne then thick-edges Jordan aerially between the slips and gully for four, the second time he has done that in this innings.

2.18pm – WICKET! Silva c Prior b Plunkett 13; SL 40/1 - Silva, having edged Jordan just short of the cordon in the previous over, gets a regulation nick through to wicketkeeper Matt Prior. That’s the breakthrough England wanted. Sri Lanka trail by 68. Later in the over Plunkett concedes five off-side wides and is cover-driven for four by new man Kumar Sangakkara.

2.12pm – REVIEW! England ask to have another look at Plunkett’s lbw shout against Silva, but the full-toss was going comfortably down leg.

2.09pm – Anderson and Jordan have been bowling a fuller length since lunch, but the ball has gone out of shape and has just been changed. Liam Punkett, replacing Anderson, gets the first go with this new-but-used ball. He immediately discomforts Silva with an excellently-directed bouncer.

1.56pm – Jordan follows Anderson’s maiden to Karunaratne with a threatening over to Silva. The sun is shining brightly at Headingley and the heat is on the players.

1.41pm – James Anderson, now in his seventh over, continues after lunch and Dimuth Karunaratne cuts him safely over point for four. Chris Jordan partners Anderson, conceding four to Kaushal Silva who feathers a ball to fine-leg.

Morning Session

Highlights from the morning session where England were dismissed for 365

1pm – LUNCH! Sri Lanka 22/0; Karunaratne 16, Silva 6 – Jordan replaces Broad for the over before the interval, a maiden, at which point the tourists trail by 86.

12.51pm – Broad bowls his second maiden, to Karunaratne. The score is 19 for none from 10 overs.

12.43pm – Anderson and Broad are keeping the pressure on Sri Lanka’s openers, who have reduced England’s lead to double figures.

12.30pm – Anderson follows Broad’s cheap over with a maiden, beating Silva’s outside edge in the process. Karunaratne then edges between the slip cordon and gully for four.

12.22pm – CHANCE! Karunaratne, who got going with a four behind point earlier in the over, nicks Anderson to second slip where Chris Jordan cannot hold a regulation chest-high opportunity.

12.13pm – James Anderson opens up with a maiden to left-hander Dimuth Karunaratne. Broad does likewise to the right-handed Kaushal Silva.

England 1st Innings

12pm – ENGLAND 365 ALL OUT!! WICKET! Anderson c & b Eranga 0 - Prior smites Eranga for six in the same direction and gets lucky when he top-edges the same bowler but the ball lands between two fielders. From the last delivery of the over Anderson falls to a brutal bouncer, leaving Prior unbeaten on 27. Eranga took 4-93 and Mathews 4-44. The hosts lead by 108.

11.53am – Prior, batting with last man James Anderson, looks to attack and clumps Mathews through mid-on for four.

11.44am – WICKET! Plunkett b Mathews 2; Eng 350/9 - Mathews produces a beauty that comes back off the seam and flattens middle stump. Liam Plunkett is comprehensively beaten, the Sri Lanka captain has a fourth breakthrough and England are nine down while 93 ahead.

11.31am – WICKET! Broad c Thirimanne b Mathews 4; Eng 344/8 - Stuart Broad, who slashed Ernaga for four to get off the mark, is caught at gully as Sri Lanka continue their fightback. Mathews and Eranga each have three scalps.

11.24am – WICKET! Jordan c Jaywardene b Eranga 17; Eng 338/7 - Eranga has his man this time as Jordan gets a slightly thicker edge that Mahela Jayawardene clasps, diving to his left in front of Sangakkara. England lead by 81 on first innings.

11.15am – CHANCE! After Matt Prior plays out a maiden to Mathews, Jordan edges an Eranga away-swinger between wicketkeeper Dinesh Chandimal and first slip Kumar Sangakkara, who leave the ball for each other and it goes for four. That’s a second life for Jordan, who was dropped yesterday at extra-cover off Dhammika Prasad, this time on 12.

11am – Facing Angelo Mathews, Chris Jordan cuts the day’s first ball for four. He takes a single from the last delivery to keep the strike and picks up two from Shaminda Eranga’s opening over.

Pre-Play News

10.50am – We spoke to Robson after his maiden Test ton. Find out what he said here.

10.40am – The game, which will decide this short series, is much more closely poised that it appeared it would be an hour before stumps yesterday. Having dismissed Sam Robson for 127 with the second new ball, the tourists took three wickets for two runs in less than four overs to come back into contention. They even had chances to dismiss overnight batsmen Matt Prior and Chris Jordan, but shelled both. Read about that and the rest of day two here.

10.30am – Good morning and welcome to our live blog on day three of the last Investec Test between England and Sri Lanka. The hosts are set to resume on 320 for six, holding a first-innings lead of 63.

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