Silva pushes Sri Lanka to lead over England in 2nd test

KANDY, Sri Lanka (AP) — Sri Lanka fought back admirably against England thanks to a back-to-the-wall 85 by Roshen Silva to earn a first-innings lead of 46 runs in the second test on Thursday.

However, Silva’s failure to ground his bat and run short conceded a rare five penalty runs to England.

Sri Lanka was all out for 336 in reply to England’s 285, boosted to 290 with the penalty runs at Pallekele International Stadium.

“We’re a little bit disappointed that they’ve got a lead,” England spinner Jack Leach said. “But we’re feeling good about bowling last on that wicket. We feel if we can put pressure on them with our batting, get a good total, then we can win.”

England faced just one over before stumps on day two and promoted Leach to open the innings. The nightwatchman negotiated six deliveries from Dilruwan Perera without further drama on a day where momentum swung both ways.

At 165-6 and still 120 runs behind England’s first-innings total, the Sri Lankans were under pressure. But Silva put up a magnificent show, teaming with the tail to push the hosts in front. However, the Sri Lankans will still have to bat last on a pitch that has plenty to offer for spin bowlers.

Silva, in for injured captain Dinesh Chandimal, was on 6 when Angelo Mathews fell for 20, and from there he stitched some valuable partnerships with the lower order to post a competitive total, Sri Lanka’s highest in the series.

Silva and Niroshan Dickwella put on 46 runs for the seventh wicket but the stand that handed Sri Lanka the initiative back was the ninth worth 56 runs between Silva and Akila Dananjaya (31). The Sri Lankans were giving England a taste of its own medicine, after England added 60 runs for the last wicket.

England took the second new ball in the 83rd over, but to no avail, and soon captain Joe Root went back to his spinners. Leach took 3-70, and Adil Rashid 3-75.

Ben Stokes put down a difficult chance at slip with Silva on 52.

Then, Silva pushed one to third man and appeared to assume the ball reached the boundary. He turned before completing his first run. Umpire Marais Erasmus from South Africa determined Silva deliberately ran short and penalized Sri Lanka by five runs.

England dropped Akila Dananjaya when he was on 30 as Jos Buttler failed to hold onto a chance off James Anderson. It didn’t cost England much as they were able to make the breakthrough when Moeen Ali trapped Dananjaya leg before wicket on 31, but Anderson failed to pick up a wicket in the innings.

Suranga Lakmal and Silva added 28 runs for the last wicket. Silva was the last man dismissed when he attempted to loft Rashid to the boundary but failed to clear mid-on where Ali completed the catch.

He faced 174 deliveries for his 85 that contained four fours and one six.

Opener Dimuth Karunaratne, who made 63, admitted Sri Lanka wasted an opportunity to bat England out of the game. Karunaratne and Dhananjaya de Silva (59) added 96 runs for the third wicket when De Silva pushed one to the covers and took on England’s best fielder. Stokes threw down the stumps with a direct hit to find Karunaratne short at the striker’s end.

“England were struggling to break the partnership I had with Dhananjaya. They tried a lot of things but we managed to counter them,” Karunaratne said. “It was the wrong call and we took on the wrong guy. Next time we will study the fielder before making a run. Ben Stokes has a strong arm and he was the wrong guy to take on.”

He said to limit England for a target of 200 would be ideal.

“It’s turning a lot at the moment,” he said. “Our spinners need to put pressure on them. We need to look at our strategy and if we can keep them down to 250 in the second innings, we can chase down the target. We have a lead of 46 and the important thing would be to get a few wickets before they erase the deficit.”