Robson celebrates maiden Test ton

Burnley and Pendle Citizen: Sam Robson celebrated a maiden Test century in just his third innings against Sri Lanka at Headingley Sam Robson celebrated a maiden Test century in just his third innings against Sri Lanka at Headingley

Sam Robson celebrated a maiden Test century in just his third innings as he helped manoeuvre England into a strong position against Sri Lanka.

The 24-year-old opener had a testing debut in the draw at Lord's, scoring one and 19, but put that behind him with an innings characterised by concentration and control on day two of the second Investec Test at Headingley.

He brought up his century in the second over after tea, taking 220 balls and hitting 11 fours along the way.

That left England 221 for two, with Ian Bell 16 not out in his 100th Test, 74 fours into their response to the tourists' 257 all out.

Captain Alastair Cook's lean run of form had earlier continued with another worrying early dismissal for 17, but Robson and Gary Ballance (74) then took over to provide more than a glimpse into England's future with a stand of 142.

There were no frills, though, to the Ballance-Robson alliance in which the Australia-born opener brought an impressive functionality - but no additional flair as yet - to a wider audience, having profited with the same method for Middlesex.

Cook got no further than the fourth over of the morning, and added just three runs to his overnight 14, before an indeterminate prod forward resulted only in an edge low to slip off Dhammika Prasad.

Ballance announced himself with a cut for four off the same bowler to get off the mark, but neither he nor Robson proved to be in any rush.

Instead, they established themselves at a traditional Test match tempo - and the relative slow grind served England's purpose ideally.

Robson passed his maiden 50 before lunch, from 102 balls, and Ballance had faced 14 more when he reached the landmark in mid-afternoon with another cut for his seventh four - off Nuwan Pradeep.

If memorable highlights were thin on the ground, there were relatively few alarms either from a second-wicket pair as yet sharing just five caps between them.

Ballance was reprieved by DRS on 31, when Rangana Herath - and umpire Billy Bowden - thought he was lbw, only for simulation to depict the slow left-armer turning the ball more than the width of the stumps.

Robson might have gone lbw too on 78, to Prasad, had the bowler appealed when his yorker hit the batsman on pad before bat.

In between, on 61 Ballance offered a sharp chance off Herath straight to short-leg - where Kaushal Silva could not hold on.

The partnership therefore remained intact until Sri Lanka captain Angelo Mathews, who finally brought himself on for the 66th over, struck with his ninth delivery.

Ballance was beginning to threaten a second successive century, in only his third Test, when the medium-pacer had him caught-behind pushing forward.

Robson took tea on 98 and turned that into an even hundred when forcing Prasad into the covers for two moments into the evening session.

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