England’s top order found a turning wicket after Sri Lanka worn out an enormous deficit and setup a difficult goal of 74 runs on the fourth day of the primary test on Sunday.
Leftarm spinner Lasith Embuldeniya grabbed 2-13 and first innings double century-maker Joe Root was brilliantly run out by Niroshan Dickwella for 1 as England went to stumps on a nervy 38-3.
Jonny Bairstow, who additionally escaped a run-out, was unbeaten on 11 whereas debutant Dan Lawrence was not out on 7 as England nonetheless wanted 36 for victory.
Sri Lanka had earlier defied England spinners by way of Lahiru Thirimanne’s (111) first test century in virtually eight years and a preventing 71 off 219 balls by Angelo Mathews to attain 359.
Leftarm spinner Jack Leach (5-122) obtained a five-wicket haul and offspinner Dom Bess (3-100) completed with eight wickets within the recreation, however Mathews dug in nicely in opposition to each spinners to push the match into the ultimate day.
It was a outstanding turnaround in batting type of the house crew, which was skittled out for simply 135 within the first innings earlier than Root’s 228 had led England to a frightening 421 and gave the guests a significant 286-run lead.
Sri Lanka was simply 10 runs forward when it lost its seventh wicket on 296, however Mathews was nicely supported by No. 10 batsman Dilruwan Perera (24) to stretch the lead to 73.
England had its possibilities, however Jos Buttler missed a troublesome stumping when Mathews was on 58 whereas Bairstow couldn’t maintain onto a pointy low catch shut to the wicket earlier than Perera had scored.
Buttler, taking part in in his forty eighth test match, lastly obtained his first stumping within the five-day format when he had Perera earlier than Leach grabbed his second five-wicket haul in opposition to Sri Lanka when Mathews lastly edged to Root within the lone slip.
The 87-test veteran Mathews, who got here to the crease within the second over of the day, batted for 5 hours and 44 minutes to increase his thirty sixth test half century and hit 4 boundaries.
Bess had struck twice within the center session when he had stand-in captain Dinesh Chandimal caught within the slip within the first over after lunch.
Dickwella (29) added 48 runs with Mathews earlier than taking part in a free lower in opposition to the offspinner and obtained a thick edge to wicketkeeper Buttler earlier than Leach clear bowled Dasun Shanaka (4) with a full-pitched supply that went beneath the bat to hit the stumps.
Earlier, Thirimanne’s affected person century, spanning simply over six hours and that includes 12 fours, carried Sri Lanka to 242-4 at lunch after the house crew resumed on 156-2.
Sam Curran (2-37) supplied the much-awaited breakthrough when he obtained the within edge off Thirimanne’s bat from a supply that nipped again into the left-hander.
Mathews, who was dropped on 11 at ahead quick leg, reached his second slowest fifty in test cricket off 164 balls within the second session earlier than England struck by way of its spinners.
But Thirimanne, who wouldn’t have performed had common captain Dimuth Karunaratne recovered from a thumb damage, grabbed the chance with each arms on a troublesome wicket the place the ball was spinning.
He put in a decided effort in opposition to spinners and quick bowlers alike in elevating solely his second test century in his thirty seventh test.
England’s spinners had created alternatives to dismiss Thirimanne after Bess had eliminated in a single day batsman Lasith Embuldeniya for nought within the second over when the batsman performed a free shot to quick further cover.
Bess twice got here shut to claiming the wicket of Thirimanne, who resumed on 76. First Dom Sibley dived full size for a catch at quick further cover however the ball raced to the boundary after which a top-edged slog sweep landed in no-man’s land.
Thirimanne reached his hundred off 227 balls with a sq. lower boundary off Bess. It was Thirimanne’s first test hundred in 54 test innings since he scored 155 not out in opposition to Bangladesh on the similar venue in March 2013.