Two late wickets from Moeen Ali helped England claw back some momentum as day three of the 2nd Investec Test Match ended with Sri Lanka on 213-4, a lead of 105.
After being dismissed relatively cheaply early on, England struggled to make regular breakthroughs throughout the day as the Sri Lankan batsmen dealt with everything thrown at them.
With Sri Lanka on 172-2 after tea and with a lead of 64, England were starting to wonder where their next wicket was coming from during a partnership of 79 between Kumar Sangakkara and Mahela Jayawardene when Moeen was introduced into the attack.
The off spinner had Sangakkara trapped in front of the stumps for 55 before bowling Lahiru Thirimanne with a beauty that turned past the outside edge on his second ball to make it 176-4 and change the game.
Sri Lanka had started the day well and were causing the England batsmen all sorts of problems but England were unable to find the same assistance from the pitch and the batsmen looked at relative ease until Stuart Broad found some reverse swing in the evening session.
Liam Plunkett had accounted for the two Sri Lankan openers earlier on, having both caught behind by Matt Prior but not before Sri Lanka had all but wiped out the first innings deficit of 108.
Kaushal Silva was the first to go, for 13, as Plunkett drew the right-hander into a defensive prod that caught the outside edge on the way through to Prior. Dimuth Karunaratne was undone by a short ball that he tried to get out of the way of, but the ball brushed his glove on the way through whilst still on the bat to send him on his way for a well-made 45.
Earlier in the day England had started the day 320-6, with the hope of pushing the score beyond 400 and take the lead well above 100.
However Angelo Mathews and Shaminda Eranga made full use of the pitch to keep the dangerous tail of England quiet as they added just 45 runs before being bowled out.
Chris Jordan, Broad, Plunkett and Jimmy Anderson all fell cheaply as Matt Prior looked on, stranded at the non-strikers end on 27 not out as England were all out for 365.
The bowling of Mathews who took 4-44 and Eranga 4-93 hinted that there was plenty in the pitch for the England bowlers and had some speculating that the game could even be over by the end of the third day but the England bowlers were unable to extract the same help as their counterparts.
The dangerous Mathews and Jayawardene made sure that Sri Lanka batted through to the close of play without suffering any more damage and they took a lead of 105 into the fourth day.
England struggled to breakthrough with the ball as Sri Lanka continued their fightback on the third day of the 2nd Investec Test Match at Headingley.
After starting the day on 320-6, England were quickly dismissed for 365 before the Sri Lankan top order set about reducing the deficit to finish just nine runs behind at the tea break.
After seeing the ball nip about in the morning session, England were unable to really trouble Sri Lanka and were particularly wasteful with the new ball.
Liam Plunkett, who looked the most dangerous of the bowlers, got the two wickets to fall, having Kaushal Silva and Dimuth Karunaratne caught behind by Matt Prior as Sri Lanka reached 99-2.
There was a brief moment of doubt after Billy Bowden had given Karunaratne out, as the batsman reviewed the decision thinking that his hand was off the bat at the moment of contact. The Sri Lankan opener and Kumar Sangakkara had put together a partnership of 53 to keep the Yorkshire crowd quiet and frustrate the England bowlers.
The decision was upheld however to bring Sri Lanka’s two most experienced batsmen in Kumar Sangakkara and Mahela Jaywardena to the crease and a crucial stage of the game with England looking to press home their advantage.
Earlier in the day England had lost four wickets for just 45 runs as Angelo Mathews and Shaminda Eranga kept the tail quiet.
Matt Prior was left stranded as Chris Jordan, Stuart Broad, Plunkett and Jimmy Anderson all fell cheaply despite Prior looking in good touch on 27 not out.
England lost their last four wickets for just 45 runs on the third morning of the 2nd Investec Test Match at Headingley.
Resuming on 320-6, England had hoped to push their lead well above 100 but Sri Lanka fought back well to restrict England to a lead of just 108 in the first innings.
Angelo Mathew and Shaminda Eranga were the star bowlers for Sri Lanka, and both finished with four wickets as England completed their collapse from 311-3 at one point yesterday evening.
James Anderson and Stuart Broad had 12 overs at the opening pair of Dimuth Karunaratne and Kaushal Silva before lunch but could not make the breakthrough.
Anderson had the best chance of the morning, as Karunaratne edged to second slip only for Chris Jordan to drop a fairly straightforward chance.
Sri Lanka finished on 22-0 which means that the deficit stands 86.
Jordan had started the day with the bat, and after looking to score some quick runs he was caught well by Mahela Jayawardena at slip and the tail of Broad, Liam Plunkett and Anderson didn’t hang around for long as England collapsed.
Matt Prior took the attack to the Sri Lankan attack briefly and finished on 27 not out as he ran out of partners.