Eng v SL: Woakes and Ali pile pressure on Sri Lanka

Moeen Ali took England into a commanding position on the second day with his second test century. Chris Woakes then claimed three for nine on his recall to the England side, sparking another capitulation from Sri Lanka.

Chris Woakes of England celebrates after dismissing Milinda Siriwardana of Sri Lanka on the second day of the second Test in Chester-le-Street.   -  Getty Images

Moeen Ali along with Chris Woakes (not in picture) were unbeaten at the end of the first day's play.   -  Reuters

Chris Woakes compounded Sri Lanka’s misery in the second Test following a hundred by Moeen Ali as England closed in on a series-clinching win at the Riverside today.

At stumps on the second day, Sri Lanka had collapsed to 91 for eight, a huge deficit of 407 runs, after Ali’s Test-best 155 not out had propelled England to 498 for nine declared.

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Woakes, only playing in this match because fellow seam-bowling all-rounder Ben Stokes was injured, took three wickets for five runs in 13 balls to reduce Sri Lanka to 67 for six.

Rangana Herath (12) gamely resisted for over an hour before fending Stuart Broad to gully.

Three balls later, Broad dismissed Shaminda Eranga when a leaping James Vince at third slip parried the ball before second slip Joe Root clutched the rebound.

Lahiru Thirimanne was 12 not out at the close and Suranga Lakmal unbeaten on nought.

England was now looking at its second innings victory in as many matches after its innings and 88-run win in the first Test of this three-match series at Headingley last week.

Another dire day with the bat for Sri Lanka, shot out for 91 and 119 at Headingley, was made all the worse by a wretched fielding display that was in marked contrast to yesterday’s brilliant catching.

The 27-year-old Woakes, in his seventh Test, needed just 12 balls to strike today, with Sri Lanka captain Angelo Mathews caught behind off a good length ball that nipped away.

Kusal Mendis, who made a gutsy fifty in Sri Lanka’s second innings at Headingley, was undone by a delivery that bounced more than he expected and lobbed a gentle catch to gully. Mendis’s 35 was easily the best score of the innings so far.

Five balls later, Woakes had Milinda Siriwardana edging to wicket-keeper Jonny Bairstow for a duck.

Woakes, who came into this match on the back of a career-best nine for 36 for Warwickshire against Durham, had now completed a double-wicket maiden at a sun-drenched Riverside.

Earlier, Ali’s second hundred in Tests — and second against Sri Lanka following an unbeaten 108 in a losing cause at Headingley in 2014 — took the game away from the tourists.

Promoted to No 7 from No 8 in Stokes’s absence, left-hander Ali, who made his name as a top-order batsman with Worcestershire but has been used mainly by England as an off-spinner, produced a fine array of shots.

But Sri Lanka did not help their cause by dropping Ali on 36 and 105.

England resumed today on 310 for six, with Ali 28 not out and Woakes eight not out.