Pietersen gives England lead over Sri Lanka at the Rose Bowl

By Stephan ShemiltBBC Sport
Third Test, The Rose Bowl (day three):
England 195-4 v Sri Lanka 184
Match scorecard
Kevin Pietersen
Pietersen has not scored a Test century in England since 2008

Kevin Pietersen hit 85 to put England in firm control of Sri Lanka on a heavily rain-affected third day of the third Test at the Rose Bowl.

After England wrapped up the Sri Lanka innings for 184, the hosts lost Andrew Strauss and Jonathan Trott cheaply.

Pietersen and Alastair Cook (55) then shared 106 either side of rain that wiped out most of the afternoon.

Cook fell to Dilhara Fernando and Pietersen was dismissed late on as England reached 195-4, a lead of 11.

Following a rain-delayed start, Sri Lanka added only seven to their overnight 177-9 before Chanaka Welegedara was caught at cover by Eoin Morgan off Stuart Broad.

Welegedara was back in the action early in the England innings, tempting Strauss into playing at a ball just wide of the off stump.

The captain could only find Tharanga Paranavitana at slip to be dismissed for the 23rd time in his Test career by a left-arm seamer.

Soon after, Trott fell victim to a carefully laid Sri Lankan plan.

Right-arm paceman Suranga Lakmal, bowling around the wicket to a packed off-side field, drew the Warwickshire man into a flat-footed drive at a wide delivery that Trott could only edge to wicketkeeper Prasanna Jayawardene.

From there, Cook and Pietersen guided the hosts to the interval, although Cook was fortunate when a gloved pull shot looped over Jayawardene.

The poor weather that has blighted the three-match series arrived at the break, permitting only 4.4 overs of play between lunch and 1720 BST.

Three times the players returned to the pitch, once without a ball being bowled, with the patience of the Southampton crowd being tested to the limit by a farcical decision to take tea in bright sunshine.

When play finally resumed in earnest Cook, strong square of the wicket, and Pietersen, who regularly drove down the ground, took their stand past 100.

Both men reached half centuries in the same over, with Cook becoming only the fourth Englishman to pass 50 in six successive Test innings.

Such was the left-hander's comfortable progress, it was a surprise when he flashed at a wide delivery from Fernando and found Thilan Samaraweera, who grasped the chance at the second attempt at gully.

But Pietersen continued untroubled, punishing the Sri Lankan seamers as they began to consistently bowl too short in adding 71 with Ian Bell (39 not out).

The Surrey man looked bound for his first Test century on English soil since 2008 but, perhaps in his eagerness to reach three figures before the close, aimed a drive at Thisara Perera and was pouched by Jayawardene.

Despite that late setback, and the loss of most of the first two days to rain, England are well set to accelerate on day four in the hope of forcing a result.