Lasith Embuldeniya drew first blood for Sri Lanka in the first over of England’s innings, knocking over Dom Sibley’s stumps.
The Sri Lanka spinners troubled the England batsmen with their sharp turns and Embuldeniya was rewarded with another wicket when he dismissed Zak Crawley (8) in the fifth over, making him edge to Kusal Mendis at gully.
With both openers back in the hut, England needed to play cautiously but a poor decision from Jonny Bairstow and Joe Root pegged them back further. The duo went for a tight single and Niroshan Dickwella raced towards short cover and aimed at the stumps to catch Root well short of the crease at the striker’s end.
With the light fading, Bairstow and Dan Lawrence managed to stabilise the innings before the umpires called stumps.
Earlier in the day on 156/2, Sri Lanka looked to continue their solid batting display with Thirimanne on 76*. Dom Bess, who had taken a five-for in the first innings, struck straightaway getting nightwatchman Embuldeniya out for a duck.
Thirimanne then combined with the experienced Mathews to lead Sri Lanka’s charge. The duo played their shots but refrained from taking any unnecessary risks. Their half-century stand helped the hosts to reduce the deficit to under 100. In the process, Thirimanne brought up his second Test ton.
England’s spinners Leach and Bess did little to trouble the Sri Lankan batsmen, who made the most of the scoring opportunities that came their way.
However, England received a major boost with the second new ball when Sam Curran dismissed the set Thirimanne for 111 as the batsman got an inside edge while defending a ball that dipped in. Captain Dinesh Chandimal, who walked in next, struggled to get going but did add quick runs to take the hosts to 242/4 at lunch.
His resistance came to an end soon after Sri Lanka resumed the second session with Bess providing the breakthrough as Root pouched a sharp low catch at the first slip. (UNI)