Cook extends England advantage
Alastair Cook was England’s mainstay as they built a 156-run lead over Sri Lanka by stumps on day four of the second npower Test at Lord's.
Cook’s steady 61 not out guided the hosts to 149 for two after they secured a first-innings advantage that had seemed unlikely overnight as Sri Lanka collapsed when play began late at 1.10pm.
After Andrew Strauss fell without scoring, Cook and Jonathan Trott shared a 117-run alliance either side of tea and a short delay for bad light. Kevin Pietersen then survived to reach stumps unbeaten on 15.
The tourists had been dismissed for 479, seven less than England managed, with Steven Finn today doubling his wicket tally to finish with 4-108, including his 50th in Tests, and Graeme Swann claiming 3-101 with all three today.
England’s pacemen exploited favourable seam bowling conditions to leave Sri Lanka 409 for six and, after a swift seventh-wicket stand of 57 between Prasanna Jayawardene and Rangana Herath, the last four wickets fell for 13 runs.
Having been 82 all out last Monday in an innings defeat at Cardiff, captain Tillakaratne Dilshan’s international-best 193 looked to have exorcised those demons. But Dilshan's side lost their last seven wickets for 85 today.
That slump under cloudy skies was put partially into perspective when Chanaka Welegedara trapped Strauss plumb in front, despite a review, with the second ball of England’s reply.
Trott survived a scare with the hosts yet to get off the mark when he edged Welegedara just short of second slip. In a short passage of play before tea, Cook struck Welegedara for consecutive fours to leg.
With the floodlights on after the interval and Sri Lanka led by Kumar Sangakkara while Dilshan nursed his bruised thumb, Cook effortlessly caressed Welegedara down the ground for four and Trott played a similar shot off Farveez Maharoof with the 50 arriving in between.
Trott was unaffected by a short bad-light delay and clipped Dilhara Fernando for four through midwicket from the first ball back. Boundaries flowed from the number three’s bat, although one flew aerially through a vacant third slip off Fernando to take the batsman to 49.
He punched Fernando for another through the covers to register a 66-ball half-century and Cook cut Suranga Lakmal to the rope for the hundred.
Trott misjudged a Herath delivery and was bowled leg stump for 58 before Cook went to 50 in the next over with a cover-driven four off Fernando.
Pietersen was becalmed early in his innings but drove Herath powerfully down the ground for four to announce himself. He and Cook survived some questionable running in the closing action, which was shortened by an over due to the light.
Morning rain, following yesterday afternoon’s showers which more than halved the day’s play, limited today to two long sessions by 7.30pm.
Sri Lanka resumed on 372 for three with Mahela Jayawardene on 40 with Thilan Samaraweera having joined him shortly before play was ended midway through yesterday afternoon.
A rare bad ball today from Finn flew down leg for four byes, taking the extras past 50.
However, the bowler responded by finding Jayawardene’s outside edge on 49 and Cook held on at third slip. Two balls later Chris Tremlett had Samaraweera caught behind.
Prasanna Jayawardene, who scored a first-innings century at Cardiff, took a single off Tremlett to herald the 400.
He and Maharoof continued to be troubled by Finn, Tremlett and Stuart Broad, whose first ball was top-edged by Jayawardene over wicketkeeper Matt Prior. Later in the over Maharoof was trapped in front by one that nipped back.
Jayawardene exhibited attacking intent, driving Broad nicely for four and smashing Swann over midwicket for six.
Swann’s review for lbw against Herath on five after Billy Doctrove signalled leg-byes showed the left-hander had hit the ball. He was credited with two runs but England still lost their first review.
Herath rubbed salt in the wound by advancing to Swann’s next ball and lifting it over the midwicket rope.
Jayawardene’s aerial on-drive for four off Swann took Sri Lanka beyond 450 and he soon clipped Broad sweetly through midwicket for another boundary.
Herath’s swept single off Swann registered the fifty partnership from 61 balls, but a loose heave in the spinner’s next over saw the diminutive batsman stumped for 26.
Finn became the youngest England player to take 50 Test wickets when Swann took a smart catch to his left at second slip to remove Jayawardene for 40. Fired up, Finn struck Lakmal a nasty blow flush on the helmet.
Strauss’ superb left-handed slip catch off Swann to remove Fernando was his 100th in Tests. Swann completed the innings when Welegedara holed out to long-on.