Chelmsford, Jun 11 : Sri Lankan batsman Lahiru Thirimanne boosted his prospects of a Test debut against England next week with a century on day one of Sri Lanka's match against Essex on Friday.The left-hander, who looks set to replace injured captain Dilshan at the Rose Bowl, retired hurt on 104 as the tourists ended on 324-4.
Kumar Sangakkara played himself back into form with an imperious 148 not out, including 23 boundaries and a six.England hopeful Ravi Bopara was the pick of the home bowlers with 2-39.The all-rounder removed Dinesh Chandimal and Thilan Samaraweera in the same over, both men brilliantly caught at second slip by Tim Phillips.
However, the rain-interrupted first day at Chelmsford belonged to Sri Lanka, who have one final opportunity to square the three-Test series against England in Southampton next Thursday.
Opening the innings alongside Tharanga Paranavitana, the elegant Thirimanne struck 15 boundaries during his 174-ball innings, although he survived an early chance off left-arm seamer Reece Topley.
Essex debutant Tymal Mills earned his first wicket when Paranavitana was caught behind by debutant wicketkeeper Ben Foakes for 27, but the dismissal was the start of a 152-run second-wicket partnership in 36 overs between Thirimanne and Sangakkara.
Both southpaws punished Essex's inexperienced bowling attack, which included 21-year-old leg-spinning triallist Tom Craddock, on both sides of the wicket.Bopara's late double strike gave Essex some reward following a hard day in the field.