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Sri Lanka hit back after Robson century

By Rob Barnett

Sam Robson’s maiden Test hundred gave England a first-innings lead, but Sri Lanka struck thrice late on day two to limit the advantage.

Robson and Ian Bell, playing in his 100th Test, steered the hosts to 311 for three before they lost those three wickets for two runs in less than four overs.

The triple breakthrough brought the tourists back into a game they were in danger of surrendering when England dominated today’s first two and a half sessions.

Robson and Gary Ballance, who followed his Lord’s century with 74, overcame the early loss of Alastair Cook via a stand worth 142 before the opener and Bell added 87.

Robson, who made his Test debut in the drawn series opener, was eventually bowled by Nuwan Pradeep for 127 with the second new ball.

Not long after, Bell, Joe Root and Moeen Ali were caught behind in quick succession, the former edging down leg for 64.

Ian Bell, who hit 64 in his 100th Test, congratulates Sam Robson on his first format  century in just his second game. The opener went on to make 127

Matt Prior and Chris Jordan survived dropped chances as England closed on 320 for six, a lead of 63 on a Headingley pitch offering assistance for batsmen and bowlers alike.

The hosts resumed today on 36 without loss after Stuart Broad’s second Test hat-trick and Liam Plunkett’s first format five-for had dismissed Sri Lanka for 257.

Cook, who is now without a fifty in five Test innings, was caught at first slip off Dhammika Prasad in a dismissal similar to the one he avoided yesterday when TV replays about the ball carrying were inconclusive.

Robson and Ballance consolidated throughout the morning session, the former raising his fifty with lunch approaching by cutting Pradeep for his eighth four.

Just after the interval Ballance, on 31, overturned spinner Rangana Herath’s lbw verdict, with Hawk-Eye showing the ball would have gone down leg.

The Yorkshire batsman capitalised, reaching his half-century with the second of two consecutive cut fours off Shaminda Eranga.

The hundred partnership soon followed, although Ballance then enjoyed some fortune. He would have been run out for 59 by a direct-hit from mid-off and caught for 61 had short-leg held on off Herath.

Ballance’s luck ran out in Angelo Mathews’ second over when he edged through to wicketkeeper Dinesh Chandimal.

Bell received a standing ovation on his way to the middle and there was another soon after tea. It came when Robson, on 98 at the interval, cover-drove Prasad for two to reach three figures. His parents were in the crowd to witness the feat.

Robson, having lifted Herath for a straight six, was undone by a delivery that cut back off the seam and clipped the top of off stump.

Bell went on to his fifty but not a fairytale ton, in this innings at least, as he perished by unfortunately flicking behind off Eranga's delivery down the leg side.

Seamers Mathews and Eranga soon had second victims, Root and Mooen going to conventional caught-behind dismissals.

It would have been worse for Cook’s side had Mathews clung on to Prior’s return chance and Jordan not been spilled at extra-cover off Prasad.

Match Scorecard Live ball-by-ball commentary

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Evening Session

Sam Robson reached his maiden Test century but England lost wickets to finish 320 for six

6.33pm – STUMPS! England 320/6; Prior 3, Jordan 4 - The hosts’ seventh-wicket pair, both reprieved by dropped chances, survive to the close. Day three is an intriguing prospect after Sri Lanka’s late fightback.

6.29pm – CHANCE! Jordan thumps Prasad to extra-cover but the fielder cannot hold on and the batsman gets two runs.

6.23pm – Having played out a maiden to Mathews, Prior opens his account from his 18th ball with a single off Eranga. Chris Jordan got off the mark at the start of the over via an overthrow.

6.13pm – WICKET! Moeen c Chandimal b Mathews 2; Eng 313/6 - Moeen drives Mathews down the ground for two to get off the mark but, two balls later, drives outside off and nicks behind. Sri Lanka are fighting back well here.

6.09pm – CHANCE! Mathews spills a fiendish return catch from Prior on nought. The bowler dived to his right in his follow-through but could not hold on one-handed.

5.59pm – WICKET! Root c Chandimal b Mathews 13; Eng 311/5 - Sri Lanka strike in consecutive overs as Root gets a regulation edge behind. Moeen Ali and Matt Prior come together with neither having faced a ball.

5.55pm – WICKET! Bell c Chandimal b Eranga 64; Eng 311/4 - Bell falls in unfortunate fashion in his 100th Test, feathering a catch behind down leg.

5.48pm – With England having moved to 300 and Root playing out a maiden to Eranga, Bell guides a short Mathews delivery past gully and to the boundary.

5.31pm – FIFTY! Bell (71 6x4 0x6) - Bell turns Angelo Mathews to deep square-leg for a single, earning him a half-century in his 100th Test. Root then unfurls an excellent cover-driven four off Eranga.

5.25pm – Bell plays out a maiden to Eranga before new man Joe Root clips Pradeep to the square-leg rope to get off the mark. Bell then cover-drives the latter bowler to reach 49.

5.10pm – WICKET! Robson b Pradeep 127; Eng 278/3 - Pradeep gets one to move fractionally back off the seam and clip the top of off stump. There ends a fine innings. Robson is deservedly, warmly applauded as he walks off. His stand with Bell was worth 87.

5.03pm – Bell and Robson each score a streaky four in Eranga’s over, the former with a top-edged cut and the latter nicking between the slips and gully.

4.45pm – Sri Lanka take the new ball at the start of the 83rd over, with Nuwan Pradeep getting first use. Robson steers it to the fine-leg rope to put England ahead on first innings and Bell then pulls Prasad to the boundary.

4.33pm – Bell twice consecutively edges Prasad between the solitary slip and gully, the first at a catchable height to bring up a fifty partnership. At the end of the over the new ball is available, but it’s not taken straight away.

4.24pm – Robson beautifully cover-drives Prasad to the boundary and then tickles the seamer round the corner for another four, just out of wicketkeeper Dinesh Chandimal’s reach. In the next over he sweetly lifts Herath for a straight six.

4.10pm – CENTURY! Robson (220b 11x4 0x6) - Bell opens the face against Dhammika Prasad for four and, later in to over, takes a single to give Robson the strike. The opener cover-drives the next ball for two, reaching 100 for the first time in Tests. He gets a standing ovation, including from his parents in the crowd.

4.03pm – After a short delay while Sri Lanka fetch some protective equipment for a close fielder, play resumes with Ian Bell taking a single off Rangana Herath. That puts Sam Robson on strike, two short of a ton. Robson plays out the last five balls of the over for no run.

Afternoon Session

England reached tea on 211 for two with Sam Robson unbeaten on 98 - two short of a first Test ton

3.42pm – TEA! England 211/2; Robson 98, Bell 8 – Robson gets a single in the last over before the interval but will have to wait until after a cuppa for another chance to reach three figures.

3.33pm – Robson’s single off Pradeep moves England to 200 and an extra-cover drive for four off Mathews then takes the opener to 97 and one shot from his first Test ton.

3.22pm – WICKET! Ballance c Chandimal b Mathews 74; Eng 191/2 - A double bowling change works for Sri Lanka as Ballance nicks medium-pacer Angelo Mathews behind, ending a fine stand of 142. Ian Bell gets a standing ovation as he makes his way to the middle in his 100th Test. Robson guides the over’s last ball through third man for four to enter the 90s.

3.10pm – Ballance, now on 67, enjoys more fortune when he top-edges a slog-sweep at Herath and the ball lands between two fielders in the deep, spinning for four.

2.56pm – CHANCE! Another opportunity to oust Ballance goes begging, this time on 61. The left-hander inside-edges Herath but Kaushal Silva cannot hold a sharp chance at short-leg.

2.51pm – CHANCE! Following another calm passage of play Robson drives Dhammika Prasad to extra-cover, who parries to mid-off. A throw comes towards the striker’s stumps. A direct-hit would have seen Ballance out for 59.

2.30pm – HUNDRED PARTNERSHIP! Robson deposits Herath for four back over the spinner’s head before the first of four Pradeep no-balls in an over brings up the century stand.

2.23pm – FIFTY! Ballance (116b 7x4 0x6) - Nuwan Pradeep replaces Eranga and is twice cut for four by Ballance, the second shot taking him to a second score of 50 or more in Tests – the first having been his century at Lord’s last weekend. The Yorkshire batsman naturally receives warm applause from his home crowd.

2.18pm – After that four, it’s steady going again with England’s second-wicket pair happy to consolidate.

2.01pm – Eranga and Herath continue, with Robson and Ballance watchful after the two lbw shouts against the latter. The latter then scores the first boundary in more than 10 overs with a controlled edge that beats gully.

1.46pm – REVIEW! Ballance, trying to work spinner Rangana Herath to leg, is struck on the front pad and given out lbw for 31. He reviews and survives with Hawk-Eye showing the ball going down leg. Later in the over Herath has a leg-before shout against Ballance turned down, although it would have been upheld if given out.

1.41pm – The day’s second session starts with Gary Ballance facing Shaminda Eranga. One run comes from the over, which Sam Robson also faces half of.

Morning Session

England recovered from the loss of Alastair Cook to reach lunch on 106 for one

1.01pm – LUNCH! England 106/1; Robson 55, Ballance 30 – Following a Herath maiden to Robson, Prasad has an lbw appeal against Ballance rejected. Sri Lanka wisely opt not to review given the ball pitched outside leg and the batsman hit it.

12.46pm – Ballance advances to the returning Herath and chips four over mid-on, raising a fifty partnership and taking England to three figures.

12.37pm – FIFTY! Robson (102b 8x4 0x6) – The right-hander cuts Pradeep past gully and to the rope, bringing up his maiden Test half-century in just his third innings. He receives warm applause from the large crowd.

12.28pm – Robson leans into two cover-driven fours off Pradeep, the second more authoritative than the first. He’s two runs short of a first Test fifty. Prasad, having taken over from Herath, follows up with a runless over to Ballance.

12.16pm – Ballance shows attacking intent by upper-cutting Pradeep for four and slog-sweeping Herath to the boundary. Pradeep responds with a maiden to Robson.

12.04pm – The drinks break arrives with England 68 for one, Nuwan Pradeep ending a second economical over after replacing Prasad. Spinner Herath then takes over from Eranga, and Robson moves on to 40.

11.40am – Robson and Ballance are content to consolidate against Prasad and Eranga, meaning a quiet passage of play. Robson shows he is watching the ball well by evading a short Eranga delivery at his body during a maiden.

11.23am – Immediately after Robson plays out a maiden to Eranga, Ballance gets going by powerfully cutting Prasad for four. Robson then straight-drives Eranga down the ground.

11.13am – WICKET! Cook c Sangakkara b Prasad 17; Eng 49/1 - The left-hander’s search for a decent Test score continues as he edges low to first slip where Kumar Sangakkara holds a regulation catch. Cook almost fell like that yesterday, but TV replays suggested the ball didn’t quite carry. This time there was no question that it did. Prasad completes a wicket-maiden to Gary Ballance.

11am – We are under way with Shaminda Eranga bowling a maiden to Alastair Cook, who is on 14. Sam Robson, on 21 overnight, gets the first runs of the day when he top-edges a cut at Dhammika Prasad over the slips for four. After Rangana Herath amusingly collides with square-leg umpire Steve Davies as the Sri Lankan attempts to field, Robson flicks Prasad fine for another four.

Pre-Play News

10.50am – Plunkett spoke exclusively to ecb.co.uk after play ended yesterday. Find out what he had to say here.

10.40am – Yesterday will remain memorable for Stuart Broad’s hat-trick that went virtually unnoticed at Headingley and Liam Plunektt’s five-wicket haul that was warmly greeted by his now home crowd. Read about day one here.

10.30am – Hello and welcome to our live blog coverage of day two at Headingley. England are set to resume on 36 for no wicket in reply to Sri Lanka’s 257.

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