Liam Plunkett, right, took two wickets as England at last made inroads into the Sri Lanka top order on the third day of the second Test at Headingley. Photo by: Rui Vieira/AP

Leeds, United Kingdom – Liam Plunkett took two wickets as England at last made inroads into the Sri Lanka top order on the third day of the second Test at Headingley.

Sri Lanka were 99 for two in their second innings at tea, a deficit of nine run, after fast bowler Plunkett had removed openers Kaushal Silva (13) and Dimuth Karunaratne (45) on his Yorkshire home ground.

But, ominously for England, the old firm of Kumar Sangakkara – 26 not out and looking to join the group of batsmen who've made a record seven successive Tests fifties – and Mahela Jayawardene, three not out, were both undefeated.

Sri Lanka started the second session on 22 without loss.

Karunaratne, dropped by second slip Chris Jordan off James Anderson on four, was 16 not out and Silva six not out.

Anderson and Stuart Broad had too often bowled wastefully short before lunch, neither threatening the stumps nor the batsmen.

But Plunkett, who in the first innings had taken a Test-best five for 64, made the breakthrough England so badly needed.

With his eighth delivery Sunday, Plunkett was rewarded for pitching the ball up when he took Silva's outside edge and wicketkeeper Matt Prior held a comfortable catch.

Sri Lanka were now 40 for one.

Silva's exit brought in Sangakkara to form an all left-handed partnership with Karunaratne.

Sangakkara was quickly into his stride, going down on one knee to drive Plunkett to the cover boundary and flaying him through the offside for another four.

Meanwhile Karunaratne, riding his luck, slashed at Jordan and the ball flew over the slips off the outside edge.

By contrast, Sangakkara stylishly drove Broad for four into the gap between cover and mid-off.

Karunaratne's erratic innings came to an end when, on 45, he gloved Plunkett down the legside to Prior.

The batsman reviewed New Zealand umpire Billy Bowden's decision but replays confirmed he was out, having faced 51 balls with three boundaries.

Earlier, Sri Lanka captain Angelo Mathews took his Test-best figures of four for 44, with fellow seamer Shaminda Eranga enjoying a return of four for 93.

England, 320 for six overnight on the back of Australia-born opener Sam Robson's maiden Test century, were bowled out for 365.

Jordan (17), already dropped, was the first man to go Sunday when he edged a good-length Eranga ball and was expertly caught by second slip Jayawardene, diving in front of Sangakkara at first slip.

Mathews then had Stuart Broad caught in the gully by Lahiru Thirimanne before his superb off-cutter clean bowled tailender Plunkett.

But Prior, on-driving Mathews for four and Eranga high-over long-on for six, took England into a lead in excess of a hundred.

Eranga, though, wrapped up the innings when last man Anderson gave a gentle return catch after fending at a bouncer.

England, who had lost their last four wickets inside 12 overs, led by 108 runs on first innings. – Sapa-AFP