2nd Test, Lunch: England take lead but Sri Lanka fight back
Rory Burns scored his maiden Test fifty. (AFP Image)

England managed to head into the lead but lost four wickets to spin on Day 3 of the second Test against Sri Lanka in Pallekele. Rory Burns struck his maiden half-century but fell moments before the lunch interval as England reached 131 for 4, ahead of Sri Lanka by 85 runs. Sri Lanka’s spinners weren’t at their best but the pitch still offering plenty of assistance, they did just about enough to seize control.

Having safely played out the one over yesterday, Jack Leach was the first England wicket to fall, out leg before wicket to Dilruwan Perera. At 4 for 1, Burns and Keaton Jennings staged a nice recovery and added 53 runs for the second wicket. The confidence of the first Test, where Jennings scored a century and a fifty was visible in his approach as the batsman kept playing the sweep and the reverse to score at a healthy pace.

Sri Lanka leaked boundaries with Burns exhibiting an authoritative period of play. Occasionally, Perera and Dananjaya were too short and the opener cashed in almost everytime. He scored seven boundaries and with Jennings got a move on that was evident from the fact that England scored 127 runs in the session. Jennings, who has been mostly effective with his reverse sweep, fell to his favoured shot. As the ball grew big on him, Jennings offered his gloves and was taken by de Silva at slip.

England didn’t look much in trouble at 108 for 2, but two wickets in four deliveries brought Sri Lanka right back into the match. First, Burns, having played so well, was declared out LBW by Malinda Pushpakumara, a review not able to save him. Next over, England’s experiment to send Ben Stokes up the order failed to click for the second time in the match as the allrounder, trying to sweep Perera was trapped plumb in front for a duck. Skipper Joe Root helped himself to 26 off 36 with three boundaries, including one off a juicy full toss, to settle some nerves.

Brief scores: England 290 and 131/4 (Rory Burns 59, Joe Root 26*; Dilruwan Perera 2-40) lead Sri Lanka 336, by 85 runs.