LEEDS: Kusal Mendis was missed three times as Sri Lanka followed-on in the first Test against England on Saturday.
Sri Lanka was 77 for two, still 130 runs behind, when rain forced an early lunch on the third day at Headingley. Mendis was 47 not out and Dinesh Chandimal seven not out.
James Anderson, England’s all-time leading Test wicket-taker, led the attack with two wickets for 21 runs in seven overs. Sri Lanka resumed on one without loss.
The overcast conditions that greeted them were similar to those in which they had been skittled out for just 91 in their first innings on Friday, when Anderson took five for 16 and Stuart Broad, the world’s number one-ranked Test bowler, four for 21.
That innings also saw wicket-keeper Jonathan Bairstow, whose 140 on his Yorkshire home ground was the centerpiece of England’s 298, hold five catches.
Saturday saw Dimuth Karunaratne avoid a pair. But it was not long before Anderson had Karunaratne caught head-high by Bairstow for seven after the left-hander got an outside edge to a near-unplayable delivery that bounced and cut away off the seam.
The same combination then accounted for Kaushal Silva (14). It was Anderson’s seventh wicket of the match and Bairstow’s seventh catch.
Either side of the wickets, Mendis, who like Karunaratne made a first-innings duck, drove both Anderson and fast bowler Steven Finn for well-struck fours.
But he was fortunate on 23 when an Anderson delivery that spat off a length and took the edge went through the hands of leaping third slip James Vince.
Mendis was also given a reprieve on 29 when he edged Finn only for Bairstow, in a rare blemish this match, to drop the low one-handed catch as he dived in front of England captain Alastair Cook at first slip.
And off what turned out to be the last ball before lunch, Mendis should have been out for 47 when he edged Broad straight to third slip only for Vince to drop the seemingly straightforward catch.
Ben Stokes spent most of the morning session off the field with the left-knee injury he suffered when bowling on Friday.
England will hope to have Stokes fully fit in time for the second Test of this three-match series, which starts at the all-rounder’s Durham home ground on Friday, May 27.- APP