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England bowl out Sri Lanka on day four via Jack Leach five wickets but wobble in pursuit of 74

Nick Hoult
·49-min read
England bowl out Sri Lanka on day four via Jack Leach five wickets but wobble in pursuit of 74
England bowl out Sri Lanka on day four via Jack Leach five wickets but wobble in pursuit of 74

Finally Mickey Arthur had a smile on his face. All you need is an unimpeded view of the Sri Lankan coach to know the state of play and he was beaming brightly as England flapped in the final hour of the day.

England, chasing only 74 to win, should get over the line when they restart on 38 for three but they rarely take the easy option when there is scope for making life a little bit more difficult for themselves.

With light fading, the ball turning, and the dilemma of whether to eke out the runs or be positive, England lost three wickets, all self inflicted.

Dom Sibley’s technique against spin was under examination before he left for Sri Lanka and his place in the side is now in grave doubt after shouldered arms and was bowled playing for the turn from Lasith Embuldeniya only to misread the arm ball. Zak Crawley does have a tidy game against spin but he has not had a good Test match, out in both innings to impetuous shots, this time caught at slip driving hard in an attempt to impose himself early.

Still, with Joe Root fresh from a double hundred (if you can be fresh after batting for nearly eight hours in Galle) there was no reason to panic. But when Root was called through for a quick single by Jonny Bairstow, and proceeded to collide with the bowler and lose his balance, England were three down. Root was well short of his ground and down on his backside as a direct hit by keeper Niroshan Dickwella, running around into the off side, hit the stumps.

Bairstow pursed his lips, knowing it was his call, and at 14 for three England were wobbling as Arthur punched the air. Suddenly the chatter around the bat went up several notches, the ball was spitting and England had a glimpse of what awaits in India. Bairstow was nearly caught and run out off the next ball but Dan Lawrence was unflustered and closed the day out.

It brought a frenetic end to a day of hard graft as Sri Lanka defied their first innings aberration with a much improved, gutsy performance.

They made England work for second innings wickets, leaving them in the field for one ball shy of 137 overs. It was physically draining, and mentally wearing, but much better preparation for four Tests in India than day one’s clatter of wickets.

Dom Bess and Jack Leach showed grit and determination to gradually improve as the day wore on, and ended up sharing eight wickets as Sri Lanka were eventually bowled out for 359.

Led by Lahiru Thirimanne’s first Test hundred since 2013 and Angelo Mathews’s gutsy 71, Sri Lanka claimed a moral victory of sorts having started 280 behind.

For Bess and Leach this was invaluable game time. Neither bowled brilliantly, and spent large periods of this Test searching for consistency. It was admirable they were able to improve as the match wore on given the 30 degree heat and 80 per cent humidity but against better players in India there may be no way back from iffy starts.

After lunch they began to look more dangerous, the full tosses and long hops became less frequent, and Leach in particular grew into the game, working incredibly hard for his second five wicket haul in Tests.

Leach knows adversity having suffered sepsis in New Zealand last year and shut away in a biobubble last summer with only his thoughts. He drew on all his reserves of strength and spirit to toil away for 41.5 overs, and gradually the snap came back.

Root missed Ben Stokes as Thirimanne propped up the resistance. Stokes bowled 124 bouncers at West Indies to batter a way through when England hit a wall of resistance at Emirates Old Trafford last summer. Mark Wood generated some heat but only Stokes has the ability to draw a batsman into a fight and you just felt he would have offered Root a way out.

Stuart Broad was terrific, bowling two excellent spells, conceding one run from five overs at the hottest point of the day, but Root had to rely on his spin bowlers to find their form.

Thirimanne has been Sri Lanka’s odd job batsman, moving up down the order and failing to establish a career with an average, even after this innings, of only 23. Resuming on 76, he looked like a man without a Test hundred since 2013 as he poked around; a top edge only just eluded short leg off Bess.

However, Bess continually dropped short and Thirimanne cut his way to his century and England’s only wicket in the first hour was the nightwatchman.

The spinners were offering little, but Sam Curran found the right length and a bit of movement to trim Thirimanne’s inside edge. Sri Lanka were only 44 behind at lunch but Bess’s habit of starting with a wicket continued with some drift and spin finding Dinesh Chandimal’s edge off his third ball of the afternoon session.

Root cajoled Broad into plugging away in the heat at Dickwella and Mathews but it was Bess who would land the crucial blow as Sri Lanka started to nose ahead. Dickwella prodded forward at Bess and was caught behind.

Mathews, as always, rallied the lower order superbly, grinding out another 68 runs as Root gave Leach and Bess their longest bowl in tandem of the match. Leach cleaned up with the last four wickets; Root taking a great catch at slip off Hasaranga de Silva and Buttler his first stumping in Test cricket when the third umpire gave Dilruwan Perera out in the closest of calls. Mathews was the final wicket, caught at slip, and Leach wearily led England off knowing full well now what the rest of the winter has in store.

12:13 PM

Close of play: England 38/3 (Bairstow 11* Lawrence 7*) chasing 74

A splendid day of cricket and entertainment. Sri Lanka fought tooth and nail to make 359, showing all the guts and judgement that they lacked in their first innings. That allowed them to set England 74 and that should have been simple - but England lost the openers cheaply and then Bairstow ran out Joe Root.

Bairstow and Lawrence have settled down pretty well and obviously should win it from here but, with some bad weather forecast, Sri Lanka have at least given themselves a chance.

12:11 PM

OVER 15: ENG 38/3 (Bairstow 11* Lawrence 7*) chasing 74

Handy over for England as they get four leg byes from one that leaps off a length and clips Lawrence on the torso on the way through to the fence

And then, without much preamble - the umpires call time for the day on account of the light!

12:06 PM

OVER 14: ENG 31/3 (Bairstow 11* Lawrence 4*) chasing 74

Perera, low round arm, snakes his arm ball past the edge of YJB's bat.

"The decision making is good from this pair," says Kumar Sangakkara on Sky Sports Cricket.

12:03 PM

OVER 13: ENG 28/3 (Bairstow 10* Lawrence 3*) chasing 74

Bairstow battling hard against some classy spin bowling. Embuldeniya is impressing. YJB plants it through the covers for a two. Single off the last ball of the over to the same region.

12:01 PM

OVER 12: ENG 26/3 (Bairstow 7* Lawrence 3*) chasing 74

This pair just steadying things down. Bairstow tries to reverse sweep Perera, misses. The umpire gives four leg byes but that actually didn't hit anything. Just burst through the top surface.

12:00 PM

OVER 11: ENG 21/3 (Bairstow 6* Lawrence 3*) chasing 74

Lawrence plays back and away to Embuldeniya. Lucky not to get castled there.

He has been very impressive, the Sri Lankan spinner. Tall, accurate, turns it. Bowls quick as well.

11:53 AM

OVER 10: ENG 21/3 (Bairstow 6* Lawrence 3*) chasing 74

Perera to Bairstow, YJB goes back to cut and misses that! Oooh that was close, blimey.

11:52 AM

Celebration time

11:50 AM

OVER 9: ENG 20/3 (Bairstow 6* Lawrence 3*) chasing 74

Shame for SL that L Embuldeniya cannot bowl both ends, he looks really dangerous.

"Getting dark here but there's still time for Sri Lanka to take another couple!" - Kumar Sangakkara.

11:47 AM

OVER 8: ENG 19/3 (Bairstow 6* Lawrence 2*) chasing 74

An over of relative normality and calm, Perera unable to locate the killer line.

11:43 AM

OVER 7: ENG 17/3 (Bairstow 5* Lawrence 1*) chasing 74

Bairstow plops forward and the ball loops towards silly point/gully. It lands safe. Bairstow hesitates and then sets off. He's nearly run out as well! England are losing the plot here.

11:41 AM

OVER 6: ENG 14/3 (Bairstow 2*) chasing 74

Oh Joe Root! Bad luck to bump into the bowler. Direct hit gave him no chance. Bairstow has run out his skipper, never a good career move for a guy trying to force his way back into the XI...

11:37 AM

WICKET! Root run out 1

This England side is never dull! Sensational stuff. Perera to Bairstow, he sets off for a single. Root, the no striker, collides with the bowler and he is struggling badly to make his ground. He's run out by a street and it's FOW 14/3

11:35 AM

OVER 5: ENG 12/2 (Bairstow 2*) chasing 74

Well, well!

11:34 AM

WICKET! Crawley c K Mendis b Embuldeniya

There's the second! Excellence from Embuldeniya, who finds turn and flight and lands it in the right spot. Crawley attempts an expansive drive as it turns out of the rough. Sharp catch in the gully. FOW 12/2

11:31 AM

OVER 4: ENG 12/1 (Crawley 8* Bairstow 2*) chasing 74

Bairstow getting busy with the reverse sweep, and now the sweep. Four singles off the over.

11:27 AM

OVER 3: ENG 8/1 (Crawley 6* Bairstow 0*) chasing 74

Embuldeniya bowling some lovely stuff. Gets the ball to pop and turn here, taking the shoulder of Crawley's bat, it flips up and lands wide of the gully.

11:25 AM

OVER 2: ENG 8/1 (Crawley 6* Bairstow 0*) chasing 74

Ooh and the other England opener should be back in the hutch as well!

Dilruwan Perera the off-spinner shares the new ball. Crawley also fails to pick an arm ball, a beefy edge and Dickwella has grassed the chance.

Crawley settles his nerves with a thump through point for four.

11:22 AM

OVER 1: ENG 3/1 (Crawley 1*) chasing 74

Well, a wicket in the first over. Couple more of them and 74 will seem like a target....

11:20 AM

WICKET! Sibley b Embuldeniya 2

The left-arm spinner has done for Dom! Ball five spins sharply, but ball six does not spin at all. Sibley went back and then just left it. The ball didn't really deviate. It crashes into off stump. Sibley has to go, and he'll be feeling a bit silly. FOW 3/1

11:18 AM

Lasith Embuldeniya

has the ball. Zak Crawley is the man on strike.

11:16 AM

England need 74 for the win

Dom Sibley I am sure will dig in, Zak Crawley might try to get them quickly.

England's bowlers have got through a power of work and will be very much hoping that they can put their feet up for the rest of the match. 20 overs are on the agenda for tonight, albeit that bad light might have a say.

The forecast for tomorrow is not so great...

11:11 AM

OVER 136.5: SL 359/10 (Fernando 0*)

Mathews clearly figured that he had to score, Fernando was clinging on to the ropes against Wood and it was only a matter of time. Decent hand from Angelo M.

England will need 74 to win. I don't think that should tax them too much, but stranger things. A real shame for Sri Lanka that they didn't apply themselves in the first innings as they did in the second.

11:08 AM

WICKET! Mathews c Root b Leach 71

Angelo Mathews tries to run it down to third man, but manages only to edge it to slip. Root, who has caught very well this match, snaffles that and that's FOW 359/10

Jack Leach has five wickets. Well done young man, that is a great effort. Not had any cricket at all but has improved throughout and bowled with real heart.

11:05 AM

Hello, Tyers to take you through to the close.

Right then, 23 overs can be bowled, although that seems unlikely....

11:01 AM

OVER 136: SL 359/9 (Mathews 71 Fernando 0)

Wood is going to persist with some short-pitched stuff here. Mathews not yet able to get anything away, not properly. A firm pull and they take the single which leaves Fernando two to face in this over. Wood looks exhausted. Couple of yorkers coming up, certainly. You miss/I hit type strategy. Not quite full enough on the fifth ball as Fernando backs away, opens the face of the bat... but doesn't connect. Anguish for Wood. The final ball is a good yorker and well played.

Sri Lanka lead by 73.

I'm handing back to Alan Tyers for the rest of the day.

10:56 AM

OVER 135: SL 358/9 (Mathews 69 Fernando 0)

Superb reverse sweep by Mathews off leach. Middle, hit firm and hard towards the deep backward point boundary. Leach then gets one to spin away and beat the edge next ball. I wonder how many spitting off the pitch and out of the rough England are going to have to deal with. I wonder how many overs they will face this evening. A potential 22 left in the day if SL are bowled out.

Mathews takes a single on the fifth ball to – hopefully – face Wood next over. Fernando plays a forward defence to a good ball from Leach and survives. Wood vs Mathews coming up...

10:52 AM

OVER 134: SL 353/9 (Mathews 65 Fernando 0)

Mathews swivel pulls to deep backward square leg but declines the run. I think that's what happened, anyway. Couldn't quite see because of all the crows on the outfield and some poor camera work. Some shenanigans going on between bowler and batsman as Mathews backs away to leg and Wood bungs it down about six foot wide of off.

Mathews eventually takes a single after flat batting Wood on the leg side. Two balls for Fernando to face. Two yorkers, probably. Or a yorker and a bouncer. Yep, first one is a yorker and is seen out by Fernando. He keeps the next one out. SL lead by 67.

10:47 AM

OVER 133: SL 352/9 (Mathews 64 Fernando 0)

That's the over and you would assume that Mathews is going to tee off now... 4-117 for Leach now, who has bowled pretty well today. Sri Lanka lead by 66.

10:45 AM

WICKET! Perera b Leach st Buttler 24

Well, the third umpire gives it out. It's very close but England would probably have felt hard done by if it was not out. I felt there was an element of doubt there but it doesn't matter. Jos Buttler has his first Test stumping and his old mate Jack Leach has his fourth wicket in this innings.

FOW 352/9

10:42 AM

England ask for stumping to be checked

Leach still capable of bowling a beauty. Big appeal here for a stumping as he rips one past the outside edge. Umpire says no but they have a look with the third umpire. I think Perera is okay here, just, but it is mightily close. I don't know actually, doubt the third umpire can be absolutely certain on this one.

The foot of Perera is on the line as he is stumped - Sky Sports Cricket
The foot of Perera is on the line as he is stumped - Sky Sports Cricket

That is soooo close. The boot is on the line but I cannot see anything behind it. But there could be. It could be ground but from the images it is hard to tell. Impossible, even. Think this will be not out.

10:39 AM

OVER 132: SL 351/8 (Mathews 63 Perera 24)

A sweaty Mark Wood continues into his 19th over. He is starting to look a bit hot and bothered now. Not much in it for him right now. No lack of effort, though. He's still in the high-80s speed-wise.

Mark Wood throws the ball up - ECB
Mark Wood throws the ball up - ECB

Two singles brings up Sri Lanka's 350 and one more from the over takes their lead to 65. Good effort after their shambles in the first innings. Mathews still there, his innings lasting 199 balls so far. How many more?

10:34 AM

OVER 131: SL 348/8 (Mathews 61 Perera 23)

One thing we've learned from Perera here is that you cannot bowl crap to him. Leach strays a bit leg-side to the right-hander and he's swept firmly for four, deservedly so. Moves into the 20s and Sri Lanka extend their lead further. England could have a tricky chase.

10:30 AM

OVER 130: SL 343/8 (Mathews 60 Perera 19)

I have to say that the simulated crowd noise on this broadcast is absolute nonsense. It sounds like a 50,000 capacity stadium at a distance of half a mile. It's so bizarre and out of place. Don't think you'd get 50,000 into Galle. Of course, there are no actual fans inside the ground.

A maiden from Wood – one that ends with an awkward bouncer – so SL clearly not in a great hurry to get the score going, then.

10:24 AM

OVER 129: SL 343/8 (Mathews 60 Perera 19)

Jack Leach into his 38th over and it's a fairly solid maiden. No alarms and no big shots from the batsmen.

10:21 AM

OVER 128: SL 343/8 (Mathews 60 Perera 19)

Mark Wood returns, Perera seems to have his eye in now with a punch down the ground for four. Lovely shot, that. 19 off 16 for the number 10. He averages over 18 with a high score of 95 and five other scores of 50 or more. That includes 92* on this ground against India in 2017. Not an especially threatening over from Wood, who has 0-44 off his 17 overs.

10:16 AM

OVER 127: SL 339/8 (Mathews 60 Perera 15)

Strange one here as a ball from Leach seems to evade everything and run to the boundary behind the keeper. Or did it? There's a politely asked appeal from Root, did it come off boot or bat? Given as runs and indeed it was Perera who jammed his bat down on a yorker-length delivery. That puts the lead over 50. The partnership a fairly brisk 25 at 5.5rpo.

10:12 AM

OVER 126: SL 333/8 (Mathews 59 Perera 10)

Missed stumping off Bess. Difficult one. Perera charges down the pitch, misses but Buttler can't get it. Don't think you can hold that against him too much. Spun, too and he would have been obscured by the ball being in and around the batsman's legs. 31 runs for 1 wicket in the six overs since the break. Useful runs for SL who now lead by 47.

10:09 AM

OVER 125: SL 328/8 (Mathews 58 Perera 10)

Yep, it's looks like it is going to be buccaneering stuff from Sri Lanka from now, I reckon. Perera gets down on one knee and firmly sweeps Leach for four runs and moves into double figures. Those the only runs from the over. 125 overs completed for Sri Lanka, which puts their 46.1 overs and 135 runs in the first innings into context. It was a shocker.

10:05 AM

OVER 124: SL 324/8 (Mathews 58 Perera 6)

Heave-ho! Perera gives Bess the long handle treatment over cow corner, dancing down the pitch and connecting. It's a one-bounce four. Nice shot but risky, long on was pedalling back to try and catch it but couldn't get there. What do Sri Lanka do here? Not impossible that they get another 70 or so batting normally but with Mathews still in it seems more sensible to go for it and try and get whatever they can and quickly. Mathews reverse sweeps for four, showing his intent. Think we could see some fireworks and soon.

Sri Lanka lead by 38.

10:01 AM

OVER 123: SL 315/8 (Mathews 53 Perera 1)

Is that a drop? I think a technical one. It went hard to Bairstow at a sort of wide slip but it would have been a tremendous catch had he taken it. He was down low and had little chance of getting it, really, it would have had to have gone right into his mitts.

09:58 AM

WICKET! Hasaranga b Leach c Root 12

Well, Hasaranga is a shot-a-ball type of number nine and he goes for 12 off 18. This was a good delivery by Leach which gripped, Hasaranga drove down the ground but wasn't to the pitch and edged it to Root at a wide slip position. Root had work to do, though, diving well to his left and clinging on superbly. That's a chance you might only take four times out of ten, I reckon.

FOW 314/8

09:56 AM

OVER 122: SL 313/7 (Mathews 53 Hasaranga 12)

Bess continues and it's not his finest over. He's punished off the final two balls with two boundaries by Hasaranga, first when he strays short and then second when he goes too full and is driven down the ground. Sri Lanka now lead by 27.

09:52 AM

OVER 121: SL 304/7 (Mathews 52 Hasaranga 4)

He's bowling well, here, is old MJ Leach. He gets one to rip past a prod from Mathews, taking a chunk out of the surface in the process. Next one is defended but squirts off the edge for a single, somehow. Don't know whether they are bowling with more rhythm or pace but the ball is turning a bit more the England's twirlymen. Encouraging for them. Hard to say it's encouraging for Sri Lanka because who knows what kind of lead they will have?

09:49 AM

We are ready to resume

Jack Leach on the hunt for a third wicket in the innings.

09:38 AM

Hello again

And thank you, Al. Very useful couple of wickets for England there, putting them back into the "firm favourites" category. It is far from done yet, though, but looks like 100-150 may be the realistic limits of what Sri Lanka can set England here, with something in two figures even more likely.

09:33 AM

TEA: Sri Lanka 302/7 (Mathews 51* Hasaranga 2*)

That was England's session. They took three for 60 in 29 overs. Chandimal and Dickwella fell in the afternoon; both had battled hard for scores in the 20s. Shanka came and went cheaply. Two of those wickets went to Bess and the other to Leach. They both bowled well, and looked more the ticket.

There were ominous gathering clouds for a bit but those have dissipated. It all leaves Sri Lanka on an effective score of 16/7. Angelo Mathews, on 51*, is obviously the major obstacle between England and victory now.

I'll hand you over to Luke Slater for an hour or so after tea.

09:26 AM

OVER 120: SL 302/7 (Mathews 51* Hasaranga 2*)

There's an lbw review against Mathews, who has been hit on the pad sweeping by Dom Bess. It is given not out and will stay as such. Hard get for the right-handed off-spinner to the right-handed batsman bowling over the wicket. If it turns, chances are it will turn too much, and that has proven to be the case here. Missing leg.

That will take us up to tea.

09:21 AM

OVER 119: SL 299/7 (Mathews 50* Hasaranga 1*)

Leach starts this over with an excellent ball, angled into Mathews and then turning away. Couple of singles off the over, one of them bringing up a nicely made 50 for Angelo Mathews.

09:19 AM

OVER 118: SL 297/7 (Mathews 49* Hasaranga 0*)

Mathews continues on his way to 50, he has batted really well. Hasaranga and he see off this Bess over.

09:15 AM

OVER 117: SL 296/7 (Mathews 48* Hasaranga 0*)

Different game now! England asking all the questions. Sri Lanka in the soup at an effective 10/7. Hasaranga the new man. He plods forward and edges, it bounces just in front of Crawley at silly point.

09:13 AM

WICKET! Shanaka b Leach 4

First ball of the over, Leach with a low full toss and Shanaka tucked that away for a couple. But now he has yorked himself! Full ball from Leach, Shanaka came forward and just played over the top of the ball. FOW 296/7

09:10 AM

OVER 116: SL 294/6 (Mathews 48* Shanaka 2*)

Shanaka comes to join Mathews. A hard, aggressive sweep gets him off the mark second ball.

09:08 AM

WICKET! Dickwella c Buttler b Bess 29

First ball of the spell. All hail Dom Bess, who has eight-fer in the match now. It was wide of the off stump and turning away. Dickwella tried to run it down to third man, edged it through to Buttler and Jos was once again utterly reliable with the gloves. No real need to play at that. Bad shot, and a bad time to lose a wicket. FOW 291/6

09:04 AM

OVER 115: SL 291/5 (Mathews 47* Dickwella 29*)

We haven't seen too many balls misbehave but this one has! That shoots along the ground from Jack Leach, giving neither Angelo Mathews or Jos Buttler any hope. Four byes.

Pitches another one in the same spot a coupla balls later and that explodes and bounces off the surface. Mathews misses with a cut, and lucky for him that he did.

England will have to bat again.

Dom Bess is coming back in.

09:01 AM

OVER 114: SL 285/5 (Mathews 42* Dickwella 28*)

The storm clouds are gathering, the groundstaff poised, three runs off the Root over.

08:59 AM

OVER 113: SL 282/5 (Mathews 40* Dickwella 27*)

Jack Leach comes on, his left-armers against the left-handed bat Dickwella. Pitches it outside off from over the wicket, and it turns big as Dickwell goes for an elaborate reverse sweep. A massive shot, misses the ball, misses everything.

All about the reverse sweep in this over. Misses another one, but the ball beats Jos for a couple of byes. And connects with another, for two.

08:53 AM

OVER 112: SL 278/5 (Mathews 40* Dickwella 25*)

Root gets away with a low full toss, Mathews just donks that away for one.

08:47 AM

OVER 111: SL 276/5 (Mathews 39* Dickwella 24*)

The sky is an alarming shade of Prussian Blue. Mark Wood is coming around the wicket at Mathews, short ball at an unpleasant height to play - armpit region - and Mathews tries to ride that bounce, not entirely convincingly.

That was Wood's fifth over. Nothing in the conditions for him but the spell has gone for just six runs, with two maidens.

Sri Lanka trail by 10. The groundstaff are preparing...

08:43 AM

OVER 110: SL 274/5 (Mathews 38* Dickwella 23*)

Dickwella continues to favour the sweep, cannot connect with a couple vs Root here but eventually does for a single.

08:39 AM

OVER 109: SL 273/5 (Mathews 38* Dickwella 22*)

Mark Wood continues to do the Lord's work. Digs one into Angelo's ribs but that's ridden well. Mainly high pace, one cutter ball in there. Off the last ball of the over, Mark loses his run-up but delivers the ball nevertheless.

The weather was lovely there until recently, little fluffy clouds etc, but it looks like some dark and threatening clouds are gathering. Hmm.

08:33 AM

OVER 108: SL 271/5 (Mathews 37* Dickwella 21*)

Root wheeling away but not really asking too many questions. Three low-risk singles chip away at the deficit.

08:31 AM

OVER 107: SL 268/5 (Mathews 35* Dickwella 20*)

Dickwella is marking a guard and batting out of his crease - against 90mph Mark Wood. So that tells you how slow the pitch is. Wood with an 81mph off-spinner now, that Dickwella throws the kitchen sink at. But he misses.

08:27 AM

OVER 106: SL 268/5 (Mathews 35* Dickwella 20*)

Joe Root brings himself on. Mathews tries a reverse sweep, is hit on the pad, but that's pitched outside leg. Get the sense that Mathews wants to get after Root, but cannot decide which shot to do it with. Comes down the pitch and then pads up.

08:20 AM

Drinks: SL 268/5 (Mathews 35* Dickwella 20*) trail by 18

Good tight hour and a bit. Broad supremely accurate. Bess, who has bowled unchanged, impressive and a wicket for him.

08:19 AM

OVER 105: SL 268/5 (Mathews 35* Dickwella 20*)

Another couple off a decent Mark Wood over.

08:17 AM


08:13 AM

OVER 104: SL 266/5 (Mathews 35* Dickwella 18*)

England exerting pressure. Sri Lanka not in any great hurry. Both sides know that a this partnership is vital. If England can knock one of these over, then they could yet rattle Sri Lanka out.

Bess into his seventh over of a useful spell.

08:09 AM

OVER 103: SL 265/5 (Mathews 35* Dickwella 17*)

Mark Wood replaces Stuart Broad. Full length, great pace, but no assistance from the pitch.

Sri Lanka creeping up towards making England bat again, it's 21 away, that mark.

08:04 AM

OVER 102: SL 265/5 (Mathews 35* Dickwella 17*)

Misfield from Sibley allows a single to Dickwella. You get the sense that Sibley is one of those fielders that the skipper has to... find a space for. That's one of four singles in the over.

India continue to fight like lions in the series down under. They rallied to 336 all out in Brisbane. Australia have added 21/0 in their second innings to go with the 369. That's stumps on day three in that one.

07:59 AM

OVER 101: SL 261/5 (Mathews 33* Dickwella 15*)

Stuart Broad is going to have a fifth over. He's yet to concede a run in this spell. Sterling effort from England's senior bowler. Economy, heart, and threatening too. Dickwella gets a single, ruining Stuart's economy rate. Last ball of the spell is a more than respectable 85mph.

07:55 AM

OVER 100: SL 260/5 (Mathews 33* Dickwella 14*)

Dom Bess continues with his fine work. Accuracy, flight, bit of drift and some turn. Mathews tries a reverse sweep, gets it all wrong and misses. Lucky escape!

07:51 AM

OVER 99: SL 259/5 (Mathews 33* Dickwella 13*)

Broad nips one back to hit the pad of Mathews but I don't think that is doing enough. Much more importantly, nor does the umpire, and nor do Broad and Root. Yet another maiden for SB.

07:46 AM

OVER 98: SL 258/5 (Mathews 33* Dickwella 13*)

Dom Bess bowling the best he has in the match. They have put two men out for the sweep now, so Dickwella is having to play more towards the offside. Fiddles and misses outside off stump.

Bess spins one and hits the Mathews pads.

Dom Bess
Dom Bess

07:42 AM

OVER 97: SL 257/5 (Mathews 33* Dickwella 12*)

Any young cricketers watching etc etc: Broad demonstrates a textbook leg-cutter, one of the hardest skills in a fast bowler's repertoire and one of the most dangerous weapons. This is basically an 80 mph leg-break from the point of view of Mathews. Broad runs his fingers down the side of the ball, it pitches on off stump and breaks away from the prod of Mathews. Wasted on thee.

07:36 AM

OVER 96: SL 257/5 (Mathews 33* Dickwella 12*)

Close! So close. Dom Bess has bowled really well since the interval. Dickwella looks to be premeditating the sweep. Cracks one away for four but Bess keeps his nerve. Dickwella tries the shame shot again next ball but this one turns and kicks and he top edges the ball... just over the head of Bairstow at square leg. Bess nearly had his man.

07:32 AM

OVER 95: SL 249/5 (Mathews 32* Dickwella 5*)

Broad bowling with real class. Immaculate lines. First ball of the over is down the perfect line and just cuts away after it pitches, Mathews well beaten. Broad going for less than a run an over.

07:28 AM

OVER 94: SL 249/5 (Mathews 32* Dickwella 5*)

Bess bowling well since the interval. Dickwella takes him on with the slog sweep, does not quite nail that, suggestion of a top edge.

Dickwella is the sort of guy who moves the game on one way or the other.

07:22 AM

OVER 93: SL 245/5 (Mathews 32* Dickwella 1*)

England will be delighted I am sure by that quick wicket, they must have been starting to get nervous over lunch that they'd be set 150, 180 on day four. Obviously that could still happen, and while Mathews is there the hosts will feel they have a chance.

Broad is holding the ball delicately in his fingers, England are trying to keep one side as dry as they can.

An accurate over from Broad, no great alarms in it. He and Mathews circling each other in the centre of the ring, as it were.

07:17 AM

OVER 92: SL 245/5 (Mathews 32* Dickwella 1*)

A wicket in the first over, and that is a significant blow landed by England. Niroshan Dickwella is the new man in. He likes to attack and can be dangerous. But Sri Lanka would dearly loved to have him in once they are ahead..

It will be Broad with the 12-over old ball.

07:16 AM

WICKET! Dinesh Chandimal c Root b Bess 20

That's the stuff! Excellent from Bess, drawing Chandimal forward, he has to play at the ball and he has prodded it into the hands of Root at slip. Good low catch. FOW 243/5

07:14 AM

Afternoon session

Hi everyone, Tyers here. If you're just joining us, England have managed to take two wickets in the morning session. Sri Lanka resume after lunch on 242/4. They trail by 44. Here comes Dom Bess.

07:12 AM

The players are back out

And it'll be Alan Tyers to take you through the first part of this session.

06:33 AM

LUNCH: SL 242-4 trail England by 44 runs

That's a very solid morning's work for Sri Lanka. It has not been easy for England. Two wickets but only one specialist batsman gone. The spinners have been okay but have not created a great deal of chances. A bit more needed on a pitch that is offering something from them. England in a contest here.

We'll be back when play resumes in about 40 minutes.

06:31 AM

OVER 91: SL 242-4 (Mathews 30 Chandimal 20)

We might get this Leach over and another in but possibly only this one. Sri Lanka 85-2 in this session so far which they would have definitely taken at the start of the morning's play. Leach still offering a bit too much variation in length. Bowls a beauty with the fifth ball, though, ripping past the outside edge, breaking the top of the surface with bounce. There have not been too many of those... that will be lunch.

06:28 AM

OVER 90: SL 241-4 (Mathews 29 Chandimal 20)

Wood continues. Chandimal drives but only onto his pads. 10,000 Test match runs and 21 centuries between these two so they know what they're doing. Not long until lunch which means ending it will be very welcome for England. Wood cranking it up now and bowls a quick bouncer that Chandimal ducks under, quickly but with ease. A very good morning for SL so far for the loss of only the nightwatchman Embuldeniya and Thirimanne for 111.

Quick over from wood, 87, 90, 89, 89, and 91km/h for the first five balls. The final is also 89mph, a little on the short side and is edged just wide of slip – not sure it would have carried. Two runs, no maiden.

06:22 AM

OVER 89: SL 239-4 (Mathews 29 Chandimal 18)

So Jack Leach is back, replacing Sam Curran. It's a better over with a lot less rubbish in it. It's a maiden. More of that, Jack.

06:18 AM

OVER 88: SL 239-4 (Mathews 29 Chandimal 18)

Mark Wood is back, then, but he has changed ends. Not much to convince him to keep Leach on if that was his intention. Wood needs to the batsmen playing here. Not like that, though, as he puts one short and wide and Chandimal flays it over the covers for four. Not exactly in control but connected well enough to get it to the boundary. Chandimal going at better than a run a ball here. Sri Lanka trail by only 47 here.

I think we could have a game on our hands soon... England not twitchy just yet but will be getting there.

06:13 AM

OVER 87: SL 234-4 (Mathews 28 Chandimal 14)

Curran continues and is bowling well. Moves to around the wicket to the Mathews, perhaps after being warned (unofficially) about straying onto the pitch in his follow-through. Three runs to Mathews from it.

06:10 AM

OVER 86: SL 231-4 (Mathews 25 Chandimal 14)

Wood off already after two overs, but Jack Leach replaces him, hoping to add to his 1-79 off 26 overs. First ball is a little short and Mathews plays an easy cut for one. Root has hardly packed the field around the bat but there's a slip and a gulley at least. No short leg or silly point yet.

It's another loose over from Leach with five from it. England would kill for Monty Panesar in his prime on this pitch. Or even Monty Panesar just outside of his prime...

 NOVEMBER 04: Monty Panesar of England bowls during day two of the tour match between Mumbai A and England at The Dr D.Y. Palit Sports Stadium on November 4, 2012 in Mumbai, India - Getty Images /Gareth Copley 
NOVEMBER 04: Monty Panesar of England bowls during day two of the tour match between Mumbai A and England at The Dr D.Y. Palit Sports Stadium on November 4, 2012 in Mumbai, India - Getty Images /Gareth Copley

06:05 AM

OVER 85: SL 226-4 (Mathews 23 Chandimal 11)

Ooh, Curran beats the outside edge of Chandimal with a fine delivery that is angled across the left-hander. He does similar again but this time it's edged between second slip and gulley and down to the boundary for four. Don't think it was a catchable height but encouraging signs from Curran.

05:59 AM

OVER 84: SL 219-4 (Mathews 20 Chandimal 7)

Chandimal upper cuts a short one from Wood for four. Not a brilliant connection but the pace Wood puts on it means it tumbles down to the wide third man boundary. Wood now into the 90s here. 90, 90 and 91 his first three of this over. No demons in the pitch for the batsmen off the pace bowlers. A quick single off the last means Mathews moves into the 20s and keeps the strike. Sri Lanka trail by 67.

05:56 AM

Swings and roundabouts for Mark Wood

Perhaps using the pace to try and compensate for the lack of swing. Probably worth noting how little he has actually bowled in this Test, though. Fewer than 20 overs in total.

05:53 AM

OVER 83: SL 212-4 (Mathews 18 Chandimal 2)

Stand-in captain Dinesh Chandimal the man at six. Curran finding a bit more shape but one is shaped into Chandimal who drives safely through the covers for two to get off the mark. Two experiences batters at the crease now and England searching for further wickets. Sri Lanka trail by 74 now with six wickets left. You would think they would need another 150-160 to make a match of it.

05:49 AM

WICKET! Thirimanne b Curran c Buttler 111

A very small amount of movement off the pitch from Curran over the wicket and it takes left-hander Thirimanne's inside edge. Footwork a little leaden-footed there and Buttler dives to his right to take the catch. Off he goes... new ball has worked for England. Fine innings from Thirimanne, though, he can be pleased with his work, 111 off 250 balls).

FOW 210-4

05:48 AM

OVER 82: SL 210-3 (Thirimanne 111 Mathews 18)

It is Mark Wood at the other end, then. He's cranking it up in his eighth over of the innings. Touching 90mph by the fourth ball of the over. The extra pace does for Mathews on the sixth ball of the over, beating his defences and striking him in the thigh pad. A quarter-hearted appeal from Wood but that is a maiden.

05:42 AM

OVER 81: SL 210-3 (Thirimanne 111 Mathews 18)

It is Sam Curran who gets the honour of the new ball/nut/cherry. A strangled shout for LBW from Buttler and the slips behind the stumps but Curran was not interested and you can see why. Not much swing for the young Curran here. Barely touching 80mph either, but that's how he bowls. A maiden, anyway.

05:37 AM

OVER 80: SL 210-3 (Thirimanne 111 Mathews 18)

Second new ball available at the end of Leach's 26th over. It has been a little too easy for them so far this morning. It's not like there have been no chances, but they have only been half-chances and the spinners have given away too many easy runs and not caused a great deal of trouble. This has meant the field has been back for most of the morning, which kind of compounds their problem. Sri Lanka trail by 76 and the second new ball is now available. Time for Mark Wood? Curran? Broad?

05:33 AM

OVER 79: SL 208-3 (Thirimanne 110 Mathews 17)

Lawrence continues with his right arm occasionals. Mathews sweeps him to deep backward square leg for a single. Tell you what, Lawrence has something here. He lands one in the right place and it goes off the top of the pitch and rips past the outside edge with a ton of bounce. Problem for Root is that his spinners have not too often done that. Just a single off Lawrence's second, plus a no-ball towards the end of it. That's 50 between these two for the fourth wicket.

05:25 AM

OVER 78: SL 206-3 (Thirimanne 110 Mathews 16)

Leach continues and goes quicker and flatter, dragging it down. Gets away with it, though as Mathews finds the fielder at backward square leg. That's better, though, as Leach finds Mathews' outside edge. It's in the air but just short and just wide of the single slip England have. Leach frustrated at that one, was a fine delivery.

05:22 AM

More on Thirimanne from CricViz

05:22 AM

Telegraph Sport's Tim Wigmore on Thirimanne

05:21 AM

OVER 77: SL 203-3 (Thirimanne 109 Mathews 14)

Dan Lawrence on to bowl. Has a moderate first-class record and a very interesting action. Nine wickets at 42 (though only just over 100 overs bowled). His first ball is decent, though, as it takes a soft outside edge of Mathews. He has a real leap in his delivery stride. Strays a bit wide to Thirimanne and is swept for a single. Likely just a stop gap before the new ball comes, though. But let's see what he can do, eh?

Ahhhh, here it comes. It's a rank full toss down the leg side which is turned around the corner for four by Mathews. A horrible delivery, frankly. That's Sri Lanka's 200 up. Eight from Lawrence's first over.

05:16 AM

OVER 76: SL 195-3 (Thirimanne 103 Mathews 12)

In case you missed it, Angelo Mathews passed 6,000 Test match runs with this innings at an average of around 45. Not too shabby. He has not looked too troubled out there at the moment. Leach bowls another maiden. Only four overs until the new ball. Sri Lanka slowly and surely edging their way into this game. Still a way to go before they post a troubling total for England, though.

05:12 AM

OVER 75: SL 195-3 (Thirimanne 103 Mathews 12)

Yes he does! It's there to cut for and he slashes it through point for four! A second Test hundred for Lahiru Thirimanne! Nearly eight years after his first. "Welcome" I believe is the word. Those are the only runs from the over.

05:09 AM

OVER 74: SL 191-3 (Thirimanne 99 Mathews 12)

It's an okay maiden from Leach. Not a threatening one, particularly. Thirimanne will be on strike to Bess for the next over. Will he get one to hit to move him to his hundred?

05:06 AM

OVER 73: SL 191-3 (Thirimanne 99 Mathews 12)

Thirimanne gets a full toss first up and hits it firmly but only towards mid on for a single. That moves him on to 99. Wouldn't say that England will be starting to get worried yet but think they would like to see a bit more from their bowlers. Ooh, Mathews knocks one right into Crawley's chest at short leg. Technically a chance but uncatchable, really. Mathews steals the strike off the last ball, prolonging Thirimanne's opportunity at a second Test 100. SL trail by 95.

05:02 AM

OVER 72: SL 189-3 (Thirimanne 98 Mathews 11)

Almost a catch! Leach tosses it up nicely, Thirimanne is in two minds about length, edges it into his bad and it loops up but over the reach of short leg. Then the pressure is released with a full bunger from which they take a single. More consistency from Leach needed here. It's not like he has been terrible, far from it, but just poor balls too often.

04:58 AM

OVER 71: SL 187-3 (Thirimanne 97 Mathews 10)

Thirimanne takes on Bess again with an attempted slog sweep. It goes right up in the air off the top edge but Crawley, sprinting towards square leg, cannot quite get there. Nervous stuff. No nerves next delivery as he rocks back to cut Bess through backward point for four to move onto 97 and reduces SL's deficit to 99. Too short, that. Too much of it from Bess and Leach. Cannot afford those deliveries that release the pressure. A boundary ball an over makes it far too easy for the batsmen. That's what we've had.

04:54 AM

OVER 70: SL 180-3 (Thirimanne 91 Mathews 9)

Jack Leach on for the first time today. A little expensive yesterday (1-67 from 20 overs), despite his fine wicket at the end of the day. Something a bit different to a right-hander, though, is his left-arm spin. He drops too short and Mathews rocks back and cuts away for four just backward of point. Length has been a problem for Leach and Bess. Root has a word with his bowler after that boundary.

One ball left in the over, what does Leach do? Strays onto the pads, and Mathews nudges it for an incredibly easy single.

04:49 AM

OVER 69: SL 175-3 (Thirimanne 91 Mathews 4)

Thirimanne's second best Test score, by the way, is 91. He's currently on that at the moment, so with another single he'll move onto his second best score in this form of the game. That was against Australia at Sydney – with an attack of Starc, Bird, Siddle, Johnson and Lyon – so, no small achievement. Anyway, just a single to Mathews in this over, Thirimanne stays on 91. Sri Lanka trail by 111.

04:45 AM

OVER 68: SL 174-3 (Thirimanne 91 Mathews 3)

Broad gets a bit too straight and full and Mathews is off the mark on his 13th ball with three, nicely clipped through midwicket. That, unfortunately, puts Stuart Broad's economy rate at above one. He has gone for 13 runs from his 12 overs. What a load of rubbish.

04:40 AM

OVER 67: SL 171-3 (Thirimanne 91 Mathews 0)

A misfield almost gives Thirimanne a run but he decides to apply the old maxim of never running on a misfield. Wise. He's faced over 200 balls now for his 83. Only one Test century for him, which was all the way back in March 2013 against Bangladesh at this very ground. An average of 22.7 after 36 Tests is not really anything to write home about if you're batting above number eight.

He tries to take Bess on but can't quite get his arms free, it goes into the air and it just evades Sibley at extra cover and goes for four. He repeats the feat the next time but this time it's a poor delivery, too short and it's cut for four through point. He moves into the 90s.

04:37 AM

OVER 66: SL 163-3 (Thirimanne 83 Mathews 0)

The headbanded Broad continues. It does look sweltering out there. Weather app says it's about 27/28c at the moment which is fairly toasty. Again, another good over from Broad and it's a second consecutive maiden for England. 14 overs away from the new ball, though that is a little less help here than it is in English conditions. SL trail by 123.

04:32 AM

OVER 65: SL 163-3 (Thirimanne 83 Mathews 0)

Bess has found a decent area here, consistently putting on a testing length just outside off off stump without too much to hit. Without anything to hit, really, as it's a maiden – his fourth of the innings. No real alarms for Thirimanne, though.

04:29 AM

OVER 64: SL 163-3 (Thirimanne 83 Mathews 0)

Bit of a misfield gets Thirimanne four runs – Broad fuming, I'd assume – and then he nicks a single towards the end of the over to keep the strike. He's into the 80s now.

04:25 AM

OVER 63: SL 158-3 (Thirimanne 78 Mathews 0)

Angelo Mathews in at five. England have their early wicket but it's the nightwatchman. Still, Mathews has to come in and bat from scratch and England have SL three down. Think it was Crawley who put down the earlier chance in the over.

04:23 AM

WICKET! Embuldiniya b Bess c Sibley 0

Dom Bess is the first England spinner into action today. The weather is fine, it seems. Certainly the sun is out, doesn't look to be much of a breeze. Oooh, is that a drop at silly point? The fielder reacts like it is but I don't think it was. Replays show that it was a drop at silly point but it doesn't matter as Embuldeniya thrashes the next ball meekly into the mitts of Sibley at cover and he goes for a duck!

FOW 158-3

04:19 AM

OVER 62: SL 158-2 (Thirimanne 76 Embuldeniya 0)

Thirimanne plays a fairly weak cover drive to get the first runs of the day, and it's two. Solid stuff from Broad first up, though, on a decent line and length aside from that driveable one. Nightwatchman Embuldeniya yet to get off the mark.

04:16 AM

Stuart Broad to get things going... we start day four.

04:12 AM

Play gets going at 4.15am GMT

Which is very shortly indeed. Can England make the early breakthroughs? England in pole position here, but Sri Lanka can bat themselves into the game this morning.

04:01 AM

Tim Wigmore on England's spin issues

Leach and Bess have not exactly set the world alight. Will they do better today? With England heading to India after this, the spinners are going to be crucial. Tim Wigmore takes a look.

On the third day in Galle, Leach bowled shorter than at his best, explaining that when he tried to bowl quicker he dragged down his length. But his superior control of line and length still explained why, even with Sri Lanka’s left-handed opening pair batted together unbroken until the 38th over - and off spinners generally more effective to left-handers - Leach was preferred by Joe Root.

Read the full article here.

03:44 AM

Good morning

Ridiculously early, isn't it? Still, if there's one thing worth getting up for in the midst of a particularly dark winter then it's Test match cricket. And this particular Test is very finely set up after three days of action.

England had by far the best of both days one and two, bowling Sri Lanka out for a measly 135 and then getting to 320/4 at close on Friday. Day three was a much tougher day for them, especially in the field. The plan would have been to bat big enough to make sure they bat only once. But from an especially strong position at the start of the day, this did not come to pass.

They lost their last six wickets for 101 runs, though not before Joe Root brought up a magnificent double century. Very few contributions of note from the lower order, but still, a substantial lead of nearly 300 in the first innings.

Unfortunately for Root's team Sri Lanka's batting the second time around lacked the chaotic and self-destructive streak that characterised their first. They dug in on what is still a decent pitch to reach 156/2 at close, with Lahiru Thirimanne on 76 not out and Lasith Embuldeniya on 0*. It had looked at least a little better for Sri Lanka just before close but Jack Leach snared Kusal Mendis – who had managed to end his horrific run of four ducks in a row – for 15 with a beauty.

The match isn't exactly perfectly poised but it is fairly well set for an entertaining final couple of days. Sri Lanka still need another 130 runs to make England bat again and, you'd say, probably another 270 to make a match of it, given everything we have seen in the last three days. A morning session for the loss of only another wicket or two and say, another 80 runs added and they are definitely back in the game.

England's spinners seemed to lack a bit of bite, so will be hoping for an improved performance. We'll be here as play gets going shortly.