Kandy - Spinners
led by Jack Leach helped England close in on a series-clinching victory
after Sri Lanka lost a fighting Angelo Mathews for 88 in the second
Test on Saturday before rain stopped play.
SCORECARD: Sri Lanka v England, Day 4
Moeen Ali trapped Mathews lbw in the first over after tea to end the
senior batsman's solid resistance that had kept alive Sri Lanka's hopes
of chasing down a target of 301.
Leach struck soon to get Dilruwan Perera for one when torrential rain
halted proceedings for the day with Sri Lanka on 226 for seven in
The hosts, who trail the three-match series 0-1, need another 75 to
win with three wickets and three sessions in hand. Niroshan Dickwella
was batting on 27 when play was stopped.
"It is evenly poised. Unfortunate I got out at a very crucial time.
But we still have got a batter at the crease," a confident Mathews told
reporters after an intriguing day's play.
"Then guys like Akila Dananjaya and Suranga Lakmal are no mugs with
the bat. So we are not out of the game. If we get one good partnership
we are in with a win," said Mathews.
Leach has claimed four wickets with his left-arm orthodox spin while Ali has taken two on a turning pitch.
Mathews, who hit his third half-century of the series, took the crease with Sri Lanka on a shaky 26-3.
The former captain played a gritty innings that lasted 137 deliveries and also built crucial partnerships.
His 73-run fifth wicket stand with Roshen Silva (37) frustrated the English spinners in the afternoon session.
Ali had Silva caught behind with a faint edge. The umpire had given
Silva not out before England successfully reviewed the decision in their
"It is a wicket where
there is lot of assistance to the spinners. Credit to England for
bowling so well. They didn't give too many loose balls. We had to work
extremely hard to score runs," said Mathews.
"Dimuth (Karunaratne) was superb today with the bat and it was extremely unfortunate that he had to fall for a brilliant catch.
"That changed the game. He was the batsman in form. Had we got a
bigger partnership we would have been in a commanding position," he
Leach had rattled the Sri Lankan top-order with three early wickets
after the tourists were bowled out for 346 in the morning session.
Left-handed Karunaratne then put on 77 runs with Mathews before falling to Adil Rashid for 57.
Karunaratne swept a turning delivery as Keaton Jennings anticipated
the hit from forward short leg to get a hand to the ball which popped
out and an alert Ben Foakes finally took the catch.
"I saw him go down to paddle and just set off running. He got a little too much bat on it and it ended up at me," said Jennings.
"I'd love to say I parried it to Foaksey but I genuinely tried to
catch it. It hit me really hard and went straight off to Foaksey."
England, who had resumed the day on 324-9, stretched their second
innings lead to 300 with overnight batsman Foakes hitting an unbeaten
Foakes, who hit a ton on debut in Galle, added 14 to his overnight 51
and shared 41 runs for the last wicket with James Anderson (12).