Openers put England on top
Strauss and Cook share century stand in Colombo
By Mark Kendall - Twitter: @SkySportsMK. Last Updated: April 4, 2012 2:37pm
Andrew Strauss went some way to answering his critics, sharing in an opening century partnership with Alastair Cook as England took control of the second Test against Sri Lanka in Colombo.
The England skipper has found his position in the side under scrutiny this week due to the team's poor form and his failure to perform with the bat.
But Strauss responded well to the pressure on him, making 61 as England finished day two on 154-1, just 121 runs behind the hosts who were bowled out for 275 in their first innings.
While Strauss did his bit in a stand of 122, it was opening partner Cook who stood firm as he showed his powers of concentration once again to reach the close on 77 not out alongside Jonathan Trott (15 not out).
Cook faced 227 balls as he batted for a shade over two sessions, although England will look to increase their run rate on day three having crept along at under two-and-a-half runs an over.
But they will be delighted with their position in the match, their only regret likely to be Strauss' failure to reach a first century since November 2008 in Brisbane - some 25 Test innings ago.
The only England wicket to fall, the captain departed when he got a thin edge to the spin of Tillakaratne Dilshan and was well caught behind the stumps by wicketkeeper Prasanna Jayawardene shortly after the drinks breaks in the final session.
Earlier in the day, Sri Lanka had resumed in the morning on 238-6 with England hoping to bring their first innings to a rapid conclusion having taken the new ball just nine overs before the close of play on Tuesday.
But James Anderson and Steve Finn were unable to make any early inroads and it wasn't until the tourists turned to Graeme Swann that they enjoyed any success.
The off-spinner finally drew Suraj Randiv into a rash shot down the ground and he was well-taken by a back-pedalling Kevin Pietersen for a patient 12 off 52 deliveries.
It took Swann just four more balls to remove Mathews who, having quietly edged his way to an eighth Test half-century, chipped up a simple catch to Strauss at short mid-wicket to depart for 57.
Although number nine Dhammika Prasad made a defiant unbeaten 12, England quickly unpicked the lock at the other end to claim the final two wickets.
Rangana Herath was caught behind following a wild heave at Tim Bresnan and Suranga Lakmal succumbed shortly afterwards as Swann turned one through his defences and into the stumps to pick up his fourth victim.