|Sri Lankan batsman Michael Vandort (L) and Mahela Jayawardene take a quick run [AFP]|
Sri Lanka’s Michael Vandort and captain Mahela Jayawardene lifted their side from an early slump to reach 105-2 and trail England by 246 runs at stumps on the second day of the second test.
Vandort (50) and Jayawardene (43) put on an unbeaten stand of 83 after left-arm seamer Ryan Sidebottom took two wickets to leave Sri Lanka reeling at 22-2.
Sidebottom finished with 2-35 from 11 overs.
Earlier, offspinner Muttiah Muralitharan took his 62nd five-wicket haul as England was bowled out for 351 at Sinhalese Sports Club Ground.
“I think somebody has to bat very badly to lose this match,” Muralitharan said.
“I think it could be a draw, or someone should come and do something extraordinary (for a result). The wicket is playing very slow.”
Dropped on 15 by Alastair Cook at forward short-leg, the left-handed Vandort went on to reach his fourth test half-century and hit five boundaries in 91 balls.
Sri Lanka lost opener Upul Tharanga (10) with the total on 20, caught by wicketkeeper Matthew Prior off Sidebottom.
The pair also combined for the prize wicket of Kumar Sangakkara for 1.
Sangakkara made 92 and 152 in the first test, which Sri Lanka won by 88 runs in Kandy last week to lead the three-match series 1-0.
His performance earned him top spot on the ICC’s batting rankings.
Resuming on 258-5, England lost Paul Collingwood (52) and rookie Stuart Broad (2) in the first session for 14 runs.
Collingwood was out lbw to seam bowler Chaminda Vaas after adding three runs to his overnight score to leave England on 269-6.
His seventh half-century came off 96 balls and included seven fours.
Three runs later, Broad lasted eight deliveries before falling lbw to Lasith Malinga.
Sidebottom and Prior put on 74 for the eighth wicket before Sidebottom was caught at slip for 17 by Mahela Jayawardene off Muralitharan to leave England on 346-8.
Sidebottom faced 81 balls in giving valuable support to Prior, who lifted England after it had lost four wickets for 35 runs.
Prior was out last for 79 when he spooned a return catch to Muralitharan.
He had hit nine fours in 130 balls for his fourth test half-century.
Muralitharan had the hosts’ best bowling figures with 5-116, while Malinga took 3-78.
On Sunday, captain Michael Vaughan (87) and Cook (81) combined for a 133-run partnership for the first wicket after England won the toss and elected to bat first.