After Angelo Mathews' magnificent century, pacer Dhammika Prasad ripped through the England top-order to put Sri Lanka on the brink of a maiden Test series victory on English soil in Headingley on Monday.
Sri Lanka started Day 4 on 214 for four with Mahela Jayawardene and Mathews at the crease. They formed a 92-run partnership for the fifth wicket and helped the visitors recover from quick blows by spinner Moeen Ali on the third day.
However, England picked up three quick wickets, when Jayawardene (79) was caught behind of James Anderson and Liam Plunkett sent both Dinesh Chandimal (7) and Prasad (0) back to the pavilion.
Skipper Mathews (169) and Rangana Herath (48) seized the moment and stitched a 148 run stand for the eighth wicket to help Lanka build a massive 349 run lead.
Plunkett was the most successful bowler for England with four wickets, Anderson took three and Ali chipped in with two wickets.
Chasing a mammoth total on a deteriorating Leeds' pitch, England made a steady start with skipper Alastair Cook and Sam Robson. They added 39 runs for the first wicket, but Prasad produced a fiery spell in the final session to rattle the English top-order.
Cook (16) was the first to go when he was castled in the 16th over, Gary Ballance (0) was plumb lbw in the next delivery and Robson (24) was caught behind soon. Ian Bell (8), who was playing his 100th Test, also failed to put up any fight against the Lankan pacer.
Left-arm spinner Herath took the fifth wicket, when he sent night-watchman Plunkett back in the dressing room.
"After the first couple of days we never thought we would be in this position," Mathews said. "I was just trying to be positive. We had to counter attack and whenever we got loose balls we wanted to score. The job is only half done. We need to take five wickets and will stick to our basics."
Jayawardene praised his bowlers for maintaining steady a line and length and being patient throughout the Test match. He also slammed England's tactics of bowling short-pitch deliveries instead of hitting the fuller length.
"Their idea of hurting us and hitting us on the head probably doesn't work," Jayawardene said. "If you're getting that good length up front, getting the ball to do a bit and being patient, one way or another, people will nick it. I thought we hung in there. We were disciplined enough. We had to get a few hits on our bodies, but I'm sure tomorrow afternoon we'll have a good laugh about it."
Meanwhile, Bell said he is gutted as Lanka are closing in on a famous win, but rejected claims that their tactics were not right against the visitors. He also supported Cook as the captain and said that he will continue to lead England in the forthcoming series.
"It looks like we're going to lose this Test," Bell said. "And that is absolutely gutting. But there is absolutely no doubt (that Cook will continue as captain). I don't think the tactics were wrong. I don't think he could have done anything more."
"Our plans were to get the ball full and we didn't quite do that," he explained "I don't think the bowlers will sit there and say they got it right. It felt the kind of wicket that, with anything short, you wanted to make the most of it."
Where to Watch Live
The 2nd Test Day 4 is scheduled for an 11 am BST (3.30 pm IST, 6 am ET) with live coverage on Star Sports 2 and Star Sports HD2 in India. The match can also be watched via live streaming in India HERE. Catch the action live on TV on Sky Sports 2 in the UK, while viewers can also live stream the action HERE.
Viewers in the US can watch the game on ESPN 3, while the action can also be live streamed HERE. Watch the match in Sri Lanka on CSN with the live streaming option HERE, while South Africa and Sub Saharan Africa viewers can view the match on SuperSport and live online HERE.