England build lead over Sri Lanka in Test at Lord's

By Sam SheringhamBBC Sport at Lord's
Second Test, Lord's (day four):
Sri Lanka 479 v England 486 & 149-2
Match scorecard
Alastair Cook (left) and Jonathan Trott each reached 50 for England
Cook (left) and Trott each scored 50 after the early loss of opener Strauss

An improved bowling performance and some typically solid batting from Jonathan Trott and Alastair Cook put England back in the driving seat in the second Test against Sri Lanka at Lord's.

All four frontline bowlers were among the wickets - with Steven Finn becoming the youngest England player to 50 Test wickets - on day four as they removed Sri Lanka's last seven batsmen for 107 runs to dismiss the tourists for 479, seven runs fewer than the hosts had managed in their first innings.

Andrew Strauss then fell leg-before-wicket off the second ball of England's second innings, but Trott (58) and Cook (61 not out) mixed immaculate defence with some textbook scoring strokes in a partnership of 117, with Kevin Pietersen surviving a probing spell from left-arm spinner Rangana Herath to guide the hosts to 149-2 at the close.

With England's lead 156, a draw appears the most likely result, but after Sri Lanka's dramatic collapse in Cardiff, Strauss and his men will believe they can force a victory that would put them 2-0 up in the series with one match to spare.

Such a scenario looked a long way off when Sri Lanka advanced to 372-3 at the end of day three, but perhaps it was the criticism of bowling coach David Saker that prompted the seamers to raise their game.

After the first session was lost to rain, Sri Lanka added 22 runs to their overnight total before Finn struck the first blow, inducing an edge from former captain Mahela Jayawardene (49) with a ball that cut away off the seam.

Thilan Samaraweera soon followed as an ugly attempted drive took the edge and Farveez Maharoof was trapped in front by a ball from Broad, which moved in off the seam.

For the first time in the match, England's bowlers were on top and with the long Sri Lankan tail exposed, they sensed the chance to take a healthy first innings lead.

But Prasanna Jayawardene and Herath had other ideas, each slogging a six off Swann as they added 57 in double-quick time.

The counter-attack was fun while it lasted but such aggression carries risks and Swann is too good a bowler to be carted around the ground for long without getting his own back.

And sure enough, the England off-spinner produced a flighted delivery which ripped out of the rough. The ball tempted Herath into a big swing and when he missed, Prior had the simple task of whipping off the bails.

Jayawardene then edged to slip to give Finn his fourth victim of the innings and the 50th of his Test career, the 22-year-old surpassing Botham as the youngest Englishman to reach the mark.

It was left to Swann to mop up the last two wickets, with Strauss taking a fine one-handed slip catch to remove Dilhara Fernando and Broad pouching a far simpler chance to dismiss last man Welegedara.

England began their second innings with a seven-run lead but they were soon on the back foot when Strauss played inside the line of a delivery that was angled into him and was hit on the back pad in front of off stump.

It was the 22nd time the left-hander has been dismissed by a left-arm seamer in Test cricket and with Zaheer Khan set to spearhead India's attack in their three-match series later this summer, the England skipper has some work to do.

If Sri Lanka had their tails up after dismissing the England skipper so cheaply, they were soon brought back down to earth as England's most reliable duo set about increasing their advantage in a positive manner.

Trott edged his first ball just short of the slips, but set the tone for a remarkably fluent innings with a straight drive for four off the next ball.

Despite the floodlights being on at Lord's, the umpires judged the light too dangerous and the players were taken off much to the anger of the sparse crowd. Fortunately, the light improved and they were treated to an interesting session as play continued until 1930BST.

Trott struck eight more boundaries in reaching his sixth Test fifty off 66 balls, before he was bowled through the gate by Herath for 58.

Cook, meanwhile, looked totally at ease at the crease, punishing the bowlers whenever they strayed off line in compiling the 25th half-century of his Test career.

Trott's dismissal brought Kevin to the crease against his nemesis, the left-arm spinner, but with the Lord's faithful getting behind him in the gloom, the out-of-form batsman played himself in before smashing Herath down the ground.

He and Cook saw England safely to the close and a position from which they could still pull off a win on day five.

Listen to Jonathan Agnew and Geoff Boycott's review of each day's play on the TMS Podcast page

Top Stories