Mahela Jayawardena helped Sri Lanka gain a lead of more than a hundred runs in the second Test at Headingley after Moeen Ali proved his utility with the ball for England on Sunday (June 22). Sri Lanka was 214 for 4, with a lead of 106, in its second innings at stumps on Day 3.
In what is only his second Test, Moeen, the occasional offspinner, took Sri Lanka by surprise with two wickets for no runs in three balls when he removed Kumar Sangakkara and Lahiru Thirimanne.
At the end of the day, Jayawardena was unbeaten on 55 while Angelo Mathews, the Sri Lanka captain, was 24 not out.
With two days left, all results are possible and it will ultimately decide the outcome of the two-Test series after the drawn first Test at Lord’s.
Sri Lanka had started the day promisingly, with Mathews achieving his Test-best figures of 4 for 44 and Shaminda Eranga grabbing 4 for 93 as England — 320 for 6 courtesy Sam Robson’s maiden Test century — were all out for 365.
The pick of the four England wickets that fell came when Mathews produced a superb off-cutter to clean bowl Liam Plunkett, the tailender.
England’s bowlers, however, were wayward at the onset. James Anderson did induce an edge from Dimuth Karunaratne, then on four, but second slip Chris Jordan dropped the catch.
England had to wait for Plunkett, who in the first innings had taken a Test-best 5 for 64, to give it the much-needed breakthrough when he had Kaushal Silva (13) caught behind off a full-length delivery.
Plunkett picked up another wicket when Karunaratne, on 45, gloved the fast bowler down the legside to Matt Prior. The batsman reviewed, but replays confirmed he was out, having faced 51 balls with three boundaries.
Sangakkara then struck two crisp boundaries off Anderson to become only the fourth batsman to score fifties in seven successive Test innings after West Indies greats Everton Weekes and Shivnarine Chanderpaul and Zimbabwe’s Andy Flower.
However, Moeen outfoxed Sangakkara when the batsman played down the wrong line and was leg before for 55. Sangakkara too reviewed the decision, but replays confirming his dismissal. Sangakkara’s 103-ball innings contained six fours.
Moeen wasn’t done yet though. He struck once more when he bowled Thirimanne for his second duck of the match with a superb delivery that drifted in towards middle-and-leg and then turned past the outside edge to hit the left-hand batsman’s middle stump.
Thirimanne, the Sri Lanka vice-captain, has now scored just four runs in four innings this series.
But Jayawardena was still there, alongside Mathews who had made a hundred at Lord’s. Jayawardena’s single off Moeen helped him reach a 103-ball fifty, which contained five fours as Sri Lanka kept England at bay for the moment.
(Courtesy:International Cricket Council)