Superb Dilshan century for Sri Lanka makes England toil
|Second Test, Lord's (day two):|
|Sri Lanka 231-1 v England 486 all out|
Captain Tillakaratne Dilshan led a Sri Lanka fightback on day two of the second Test as England's tallest ever pace attack was brought down to size.
The giant trio of Steven Finn, Chris Tremlett and Stuart Broad - combined height 19ft 9in - were slashed and swiped to all corners of the Lord's outfield as Sri Lanka reached 231-1 by the close, with the skipper 127 not out.
He scored the lion's share of the runs in an opening partnership of 207 with Tharanga Paranavitana - a record for Sri Lanka against England.
It was a supreme display from the Sri Lankans, who earlier in the day had been put to the sword by England's lower order, with Matt Prior scoring an imperious 126 off 131 balls as the hosts, who were 22-3 after half an hour on day one, took their first innings total from an overnight 342-6 to 486 all out.
The only downside for Sri Lanka was a cracked bone in his thumb for Dilshan, suffered when he was struck by Tremlett. Dilshan went to hospital for an X-ray at close of play, but he had continued in the evening session without too much discomfort so should be fine to continue on Sunday.
The match could have taken a different course if Alastair Cook had clung onto a straightforward chance at third slip when Paranavitana, on 13, edged a short ball from Finn straight towards him.
It was the type of catch this England side were gobbling up for breakfast during their Ashes triumph in the winter and a reminder of how dearly the hosts miss Paul Collingwood's sharp reactions in the slip corden.
Until that point, Dilshan had been riding his luck, interspersing muscular boundaries with wild swipes at thin air. But after an impatient start he reined in his attacking instincts and, judging balls on their merits, cajoled his way to a 12th Test hundred and first since taking over the captaincy from Kumar Sangakkara.
At the other end, Paranavitana was as solid as a rock, playing a more old-fashioned Test match innings. He was happy to play the support role and had faced 184 balls for his 65 when he edged Finn through to Strauss at first slip to give England their first wicket.
The dismissal was little more than the Middlesex seamer deserved on his home ground, given that moments earlier, a Dilshan inside edge had whistled past his stumps to the boundary.
There was still a tricky half hour of play for the Sri Lankans to negotiate, but after Sangakkara (13 not out) signed on with an impeccable drive through midwicket for four, the tourists eased their way through to stumps.
It was quite some turnaround to a day which had begun in riotous fashion as Broad and Prior picked up from where they left off in Friday's evening session by tearing into the Sri Lankan bowling.
They scored 67 runs in eight overs, with Broad setting the tone by striking two fours off Chanaka Welegedara in the first over of the day, while Prior motored his way into the nineties.
His route to a fifth Test century was not entirely plain sailing, however - he was dropped on 94 by Mahela Jayawardene at second slip and reached 99 with an edge between wicketkeeper Sangakkara and first slip.
A single off the next ball took the Sussex man to three figures from 108 balls. And coming in his first knock since his 118 against Australia in Sydney in January, he became the first England wicketkeeper since Alec Stewart in 1996-97 to score hundreds in successive Test innings.
Broad reached his fifty off 47 balls, but four deliveries later he was gone, playing and missing a straight one from Welegedara and getting trapped in front of middle stump.
Graeme Swann did not trouble the scorers for long as he prodded outside off stump and nicked to first slip to give the tireless Welegedara his fourth victim.
Prior rode his luck in an entertaining innings as he hooked, pulled and drove at will. But his good fortune ran out when he attempted a leg-sided heave at left-arm spinner Rangana Herath and was clean bowled.
Sri Lanka's misery wasn't over though as Tremlett (24 not out) and Finn added 34 for the last wicket, with the latter posting his highest Test score of 19 before he too had his stumps rearranged by Herath.
At that stage, England looked primed to take a firm grip on the Test match, but the brilliant batting of Dilshan has given his team the initiative going into day three.
Listen to Jonathan Agnew and Geoff Boycott's review of each day's play on the TMS Podcast page