Third day: Sri Lanka lead England by 288 runs with three wickets remaining
Sri Lankan coach Tom Moody announced his game plan before the start of yesterday's third day in the third and final Test match here and his team mix of senior and jnior players carried it out to perfection.
He said: "We will aim to bat all day and, if possible, into Monday. Runs are always important but so is occupation of the crease in this match, because both first innings were completed inside the first two days. The longer we bat, the more the pitch will wear, and the more assistance it will give to our spinners."
Of course he meant Muttiah Muralitharan, but don't rule out Sanath Jayasuriya's left-arm spinners playing a part in the rest of the match. He picked up a couple of wickets in the first innings and will trouble England's top three left-handers bowling into the rough.
Moody woould probably settle for a slightly smaller total scored at a slower rate - i.e., 320 off 120 overs compared with 340 off 110 - because of the extra scuffing up of pitch areas for Murali.
Either way, yesterday belonged to the tourists, and they mostly batted with the sort of application and determination missing from England in their first innings.
It will need a monumental performance to score more than 300 to win the match and the series, and it must be a collective effort and not just Kevin Pietersen or bust.
This was supposed to be the easier part of the summer before the spikey challenge from Pakistan in July and August but the absence of key bowlers and some ordinary batting has posed problems that could result in a drawn series.
Paul Collingwood's theory that the hard, dry surface is one on which a batsman is never in might be close to the truth because several batsmen got in yesterday and made useful contributions without ever threatening to dominate an attack handicapped by a worrying recurrence of a left ankle injury to Andrew Flintoff.
The acting captain may well be paying a hefty price for his 60 overs in the Lord's Test and, after a quiet match at Edgbaston, he burst into life in a ferocious spell in this game on the first day - only to be unable to bowl much yesterday.
He is such precious cargo he should be labelled "not wanted on voyage" for the coming five one-day international series involving Sri Lanka later this month.
England badly needed two or three wickets before lunch yesterday but could manage only one in a session that was worth 80 runs from 28 overs.
Opener Upul Tharanga played well enough for his 44 until he obliged Monty Pane-sar with the first of his three wickets 25 minutes before the break. He propped forward to one from around the wicket and nicked a bat-pad catch to bring in Mahela Jayawardene.
Sri Lanka's captain and vice-captain took the score to 146 with such ease that it was a surprise when the heroic Flintoff flung himself into a muck-or-nettles spell and made one lift to Sangakkara who could only fend off to Marcus Trescothick at slip. His 66 was the highest score and the best innings of the day.
Jayasuriya was promoted to five and hit his first ball for four before, to his obvious disgust, he was given out lbw on the sweep to Panesar.
Jayawardene eased his way to 45 before he flung his bat at a wide one from Liam Plunkett and Geraint Jones cleaned up. At 191 for five, England were not quite back on an even keel but an innings wrap up for another 50 runs or so would have done nicely.
Sri Lanka knew it and knuckled down to make sure their wickets were earned, and only two more came in the last 37 overs of the day. Tillekeratne Dilshan was caught behind for 31 off Matthew Hoggard but the rest of the day was dominated by 19-year-old Chamara Kapugedera in only his second Test match.
He has an elegance and poise unusual in one so inexperienced and his first 50 came off 117 balls and was studded with seven fours.
He lost Farveez Maharoof shouldering arms to a straight one from Panesar at 238 for seven but the arrival of Chaminda Vaas closed the door.
The left-hander has batted at nine in the series; he has scored 174, averages 87 in the series and has faced more balls than any of his colleagues. He mother-henned his partner through a tricky time when his concentration wavered and their unbeaten partnership of 48 means they have considerable power to add this morning.
Yesterday may have been slowish with 241 runs coming off 90 overs but, as Moody said, "It is not just how many, but also how long."