Colombo: Sri Lankan captain Mahela Jayawardene took over from Sanath Jayasuriya as his country's leading run-getter on Tuesday as England were sent on a leather hunt in the second Test here at Sinhalese Sports Club (SSC) on Tuesday.
Sri Lanka, replying to England's first innings total of 351, took their overnight score of 105-2 to 282-3 by tea on the third day.
Jayawardene was unbeaten on 120, his 20th Test century that equalled Aravinda de Silva's Sri Lankan record and also helped him surpass the recently-retired Jayasuriya's career tally of 6,973 runs.
The 30-year-old now has 6,983 runs from 92 Tests while Jayasuriya played 110 matches before retiring from the longer format of the game after the first Test in Kandy last week.
Jayawardene shone once again on his favourite hunting ground where he scored 374 against South Africa two years ago during a world record stand of 624 with Kumar Sangakkara (287).
Chamara Silva was the other batsman at the crease on nine, having put on 33 so far for the fourth wicket with his captain.
Centurions Jayawardene and Michael Vandort put on 227 for the third wicket after coming together after lunch on the second day with Sri Lanka struggling at 22-2.
The pair batted through the morning sssion before left-arm seamer Ryan Sidebottom broke the stand with his fourth delivery with the second new ball an hour after lunch by trapping Vandort leg-before for 138.
Vandort hit 18 boundaries, and a six off Monty Panesar, but failed by two runs to surpass his Test best of 140 against Bangladesh in 2002.
England, who lost the first Test by 88 runs, were denied quick wickets after they had removed the prolific Sangakkara and Upul Tharanga cheaply on Monday.
Sangakkara hit 152 in Kandy to become the first batsman in history to compile 150-plus scores in four consecutive Tests.
But the tourists were frustrated by the slow wicket that offered no assistance to the bowlers.
The nearest England came to taking a wicket in the morning session was when Panesar got one to spin sharply across Jayawardene's bat, but wicket-keeper Matthew Prior failed to take the thin edge.
Jayawardene moved to 88 when he edged Steve Harmison to gully where Ian Bell dived in front, but indicated to the umpires he had picked up the ball on the half-volley and was not claiming a catch.
Kevin Pietersen was given out similarly on the first day after umpire Daryl Harper declined to call for television replays which showed that Chamara Silva had grassed the ball before holding it.
Leading Test bowler Muttiah Muralitharan, who grabbed a five-wicket haul in England's first innings, said before the start of the day's play that the slow wicket may not produce a result.
"It's going to get lower and lower, and slower and slower, and it will be very hard to get a result unless something extraordinary happens," the off-spinner said.
"It's a normal SSC wicket and someone has to bat very badly to lose this Test match."
Brief Scores (at tea, D-3):
England Ist innings 351 Vs Lanka 282 for 3 (Jayawardene 120*, Vandort 138; Sidebottom 3 for 70).