|New captain Tillakaratne Dilshan leads the fight-back at Lord's [AFP]
Tillakaratne Dilshan batted with the responsibility appropriate to his new role as Sri Lanka captain during an accomplished unbeaten century on the second day of the second Test at Lord's on Saturday.
Replying to the home team's first innings 486, Dilshan (127 not out) and Tharanga Paranavitana (65) compiled 207 for the first wicket, a Sri Lanka record against England.
At the close the visitors were 231 for one.
Dilshan, 34, an equally good batsman in all forms of the game, startled the cricketing world two years ago when he introduced the 'Dilscoop' at the Twenty20 World Cup, flicking the ball from a good length over his shoulder and the wicketkeeper's head.
He has subsequently taken over a team in transition after Muttiah Muralitharan, the highest wicket-taker in Test and one-day international cricket, and fast bowler Lasith Malinga retired.
In addition, Sri Lanka's skilful left-arm medium-pacer Chaminda Vaas is now plying his trade on the English county circuit.
Without that potent trio, the attack looked anaemic against England's batsmen on Saturday.
Matt Prior completed his fifth Test century after resuming on 73 not out, scoring 126 from 131 balls, and Stuart Broad plundered 54 from 51 deliveries.
Chris Tremlett (24 not out) and Steven Finn (19) also combined in a last-wicket partnership of 34 to add to Sri Lanka's frustration and a total close to 500 was not what Dilshan would have envisaged when he asked England to bat on Friday.
The suspicion also remained that Dilshan had not wanted to expose his batsmen to the England bowlers when the pitch was at its freshest after they had collapsed to 82 all out in their first-Test defeat in Cardiff last Monday.
England first innings
A Strauss lbw b Welegedara 4
A Cook c Maharoof b Fernando 96
J Trott lbw b Lakmal 2
K Pietersen c Dilshan b Lakmal 2
I Bell c Paranavitana b Welegedara 52
E Morgan lbw b Lakmal 79
M Prior b Herath 126
S Broad lbw b Welegedara 54
G Swann c Paranavitana b Welegedara 4
C Tremlett not out 24
S Finn b Herath 19
Total: (all out, 112.5 overs) 486
Fall of wickets: 1-5 2-18 3-22 4-130 5-201 6-302 7-410 8-4149-452 10-486
Sri Lanka innings
T Paranavitana c Strauss b Finn 65
T Dilshan not out 127
K Sangakkara not out 13
Total: (one wicket, 63 overs) 231
Fall of wickets: 1-207
Broad, bowling from the Pavilion End, beat Paranavitana with his first two deliveries and the left-hander received a life on 13 when Alastair Cook grassed a simple chance at third slip off Finn.
Dilshan showed his one-day instincts had not been entirely subdued when he hooked Tremlett for six.
The visiting captain did not allow Graeme Swann to settle into a rhythm, striking Ian Bell a painful blow in the ribs at short-leg with a full-blooded sweep and using his feet to loft the off-spinner high over long-on for another six.
Skipper Andrew Strauss even turned to Kevin Pietersen's occasional off-spin, possibly on the grounds that after consecutive scores of three and two he might prove more successful with the ball than the bat.
The ploy did not work, with Dilshan cutting a long hop with contemptuous ease to the third-man boundary.
Dilshan unfurled a magnificent back-foot drive through the covers off Finn and reached his 12th Test century, off 129 balls, in the same over with a slashing square cut.
He lost Paranavitana caught at first slip by Strauss chasing a wide delivery from Finn, giving his predecessor as captain Kumar Sangakkara the opportunity to show a packed crowd basking in the sunshine a brief glimpse of his class with 13 not out.