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Chester-le-Street: Facing another defeat inside three days, Sri Lanka held England at bay — for now — as captain Angelo Mathews' 80 helped it to 309-5 in its second innings in the second test on Sunday.
England was still closing in on a series victory in the three-match contest with Sri Lanka 88 behind England's 498-9 declared after being forced to follow on.
But the struggling tourists showed some fight on Day 3 with half-centuries by Mathews, Kaushal Silva (60) and Dinesh Chandimal, who was 54 not out.
England earlier fired Sri Lanka out for 101 in its first innings at the Riverside Ground, with the hosts' seamers sparking another collapse after bowling the tourists out for 91 and 119 in an innings victory in the first test. In this game, Stuart Broad led England's bowlers in the first innings with 4-40 and allrounder Chris Woakes — in the team for the injured Ben Stokes — impressed with 3-9. James Anderson had 3-36 in the first innings and 2-40 in the second.
Sri Lanka will at least take this test to a fourth day, better than its loss inside three days at Headingley.
England had Sri Lanka wobbling again at 100-3 in its second innings before Mathews and Silva combined for an 82-run partnership for the fourth wicket. Mathews cracked nine fours and a six in his counterattack before being undone by Anderson, who forced a thin edge behind to wicketkeeper Jonny Bairstow.
Chandimal took up the fight after the departure of his captain and Milinda Siriwardana supported with an unbeaten 35 in their unbroken stand of 87. Those two will continue on Monday with a target of at least making England bat again.
But England remained overwhelming favorite to win this test and clinch the series with one match to play. That would be a strong start to the summer for the English team, which beat South Africa in South Africa at the start of the year.