Galle - England suffered two crucial blows
as they attempted to record their highest successful fourth-innings
chase to win the first Test against Sri Lanka in Galle on Thursday.
tourists, set a target of 340 to take the lead in the two-match series,
stuttered to 177-4 by lunch on the fourth day at the Galle
Kevin Pietersen and Ian Bell were the
batsmen dismissed in a tense morning session that ended with England
still needing 163 more runs to win with six wickets in hand on a wearing
Jonathan Trott kept the world's number one Test side
afloat with a grim unbeaten 76 off 193 balls, after Rangana Herath
failed to take a return catch when the batsman was on 62.
Wicket-keeper Matt Prior was the other batsman at the crease on 15.
England's most successful fourth-innings chase came way back in 1928 when they made 332-7 to defeat Australia in Melbourne.
tourists, who will slip to number two behind South Africa if they lose
the series, lost Pietersen in the day's third over after just seven runs
had been added to the overnight score of 111-2.
Pietersen, on 30,
attempted to on-drive spinner Suraj Randiv and only managed to spoon an
easy catch to Sri Lankan captain Mahela Jayawardene at short
The dismissal ended a valuable 70-run partnership for
the third wicket with Trott after England had been reduced to 48-2 late
on Wednesday afternoon.
Accurate Sri Lanka bowling tied down the
tourists to just 34 runs from 15 overs in the first hour, 22 of them
coming from the bat of Trott.
Bell, who top-scored with 52 in the
first innings, missed a sweep shot off Herath and was given out
leg-before by umpire Rod Tucker.
Bell immediately asked for a review, but he did not earn a reprieve from TV umpire Bruce Oxenford and England slipped to 152-4.
It was Herath's third wicket in the innings after the left-arm spinner had bagged six in the first.