Robson Century Helps England Build Lead
Sri Lanka 257 (Sangakkara 79, Plunkett 5-64) v
England 320-6 (Robson 127, Ballance 74)
Second Test, Headingley, day two
Sam Robson scored his maiden century to help England close day two of the second Test against Sri Lanka at Headingley 63 runs ahead.
Playing in just his second Test, Robson made 127 and there were also half-centuries for Gary Ballance (74) and Ian Bell (64) as England reached 320 for six replying to Sri Lanka's 257.
The home side dominated the first two sessions before Sri Lanka hit back with four wickets after tea, including three in less than four overs before Matthew Prior and Chris Jordan - who were both dropped early in their innings - saw England through to the end of the day.
Day one saw Liam Plunkett (5-64), Stuart Broad (3-46 including a hat-trick) and James Anderson (2-49) gave England the upper hand and their batsmen reinforced their position today.
The opening Test at Lord's was drawn in dramatic circumstances when Sri Lanka held on with nine wickets down on the final day.
England began proceedings on 36 without loss but added just 13 runs in the morning before Alastair Cook's run of poor form continued when he edged Dhammika Prasad to Kumar Sangakkara at first slip for 17.
Robson and Ballance then batted patiently, seeing off Sri Lanka's bowlers when conditions were at their best for the tourists and took England to lunch on a very healthy 106 for one, Robson passing his half-century before the break.
Ballance, who scored a fine century of his own at Lord's, looked well set to hit another three-figure score as he and Robson added 142 for the second wicket together.
He was given out trapped in front by Rangana Herath in the 45th over of the inning but successfully reviewed the decision - Hawkeye having the ball missing leg stump.
He went on to make 74 in 157 balls and would fall shortly before tea when he edged Angelo Mathews to Dinesh Chandimal.
Playing his 100th Test, Ian Bell was given a rapturous ovation as he joined Robson at the crease and England headed into the final session on 211 for two with Robson two runs short of his century.
He took his time getting there, ensuring he did not give his wicket away by playing rashly, picking the right ball to drive through the covers and emulate Joe Root in scoring a maiden Test ton at Yorkshire's home ground.
Bell was typically fluent, hitting eight fours in 90 balls for his 64 and Robson went on to score 127 in 253 balls, including just a sixth six in first-class cricket as well as 15 fours, before he was bowled by Nuwan Pradeep.
Bell passed his half-century and the Sri Lankans then claimed three English wickets for two runs to keep themselves in the game.
First, Bell flicked Shaminda Eranga down the leg-side into the gloves of Chandimal, then Root (13) edged Mathews to Chandimal and finally Moeen Ali (2) gave Chandimal his third catch in quick succession as Eranga struck again.
And it should have been even better for Sri Lanka as both Prior and Jordan were given let-offs on their way to three and four not out respectively.
Mathews couldn't cling on to a tough caught and bowled chance that Prior presented while Jordan almost paid the penalty for a loose drive into the covers.
Eranga finished the day with two for 63, Mathews, whose medium pace genuinely troubled England late on, two for 29, Pradeep one for 90 and Prasad one for 75.
© Cricket World 2014