Jimmy Anderson, the veteran pacer in the England XI in place of the rested Stuart Broad, was England’s chief threat, as he ended with 3/24.
After winning toss and opting to bat, Sri Lanka were off to a bad start, as they lost two early wickets.
Kusal Perera, attempting to plant one over long off, only managed an edge off Anderson and gifted a high catch to Joe Root at first slip for 6.
Oshada Fernando, who had been included in place of the out-of-form Kusal Mendis, also didn’t fare much better, chopping one on from Anderson onto his own stumps later in that same over. Sri Lanka were 7/2.
However, England had little joy thereafter. Thirimanne, was joined by Mathews, and the two went about reviving the innings, putting on a much-needed 69-run stand for the third wicket. The partnership allayed some Sri Lankan concerns, and the batsmen helped take the team through to lunch without further incident, at 76/2.
The lunch interval broke their momentum, with Thirimanne falling shortly after resumption. It was a typical Anderson wicket, probing outside off and forcing the batsman to edge one through to the ‘keeper.
If England hoped that would trigger another slide, they were disappointed. Mathews was joined by Dinesh Chandimal, the captain, and Sri Lanka had their best partnership of the day.
The duo put on a watchful 117, a stand that became increasingly punishing on England as it went on. The partnership took up 42.4 overs, during the course of which all of England’s bowlers tried and failed to arrest the trickle of runs.
The duo took Sri Lanka to 155/3 at Tea, the partnership went on for nearly an hour after resumption, with Dinesh Chandimal bringing up his half-century.
It was broken shortly thereafter though, a wild inswinger from Mark Wood cleaning up Chandimal, but by this point, the England bowlers were tired. Niroshan Dickwella could come in and settle down, scoring an assiduous 60-ball 19* to ensure the innings remained steady.
At the other end, Mathews could bring up the runs to score his 11th Test century, capping a fine day for Sri Lanka. (UNI)