ENGLAND’S hopes of claiming a second successive three-day Test win were dashed as Sri Lanka staged a batting rally at Emirates Riverside, but Steven Finn remains confident his team-mates will complete a series triumph tomorrow morning.

Having been dismissed in their first innings for 101, Sri Lanka’s batsmen finally displayed some resolve and application as they reached 309-5 in their second innings by the close of play.

That leaves them 88 runs adrift of England’s first-innings total of 498-9 declared, and with Dinesh Chandimal well set on an unbeaten 54, the tourists will be pushing to make their opponents bat again.

England’s bowlers will be keen to avoid that happening, and with the new ball having been taken just four overs before the end of today’s play, James Anderson and Stuart Broad will be confident of making some early inroads tomorrow morning.

“We’ve got a four-over old ball for the start of the morning, and we’ve seen that the new ball has done a lot of damage in the series so far,” said Finn, who claimed his first wicket of the match this afternoon when he lured Kaushal Silva into a miscued pull that was claimed by Jonny Bairstow.

“We’ve got two of the best new-ball bowlers in the world and we’re playing four seamers, so I think this is a great opportunity for us to come in and make early inroads to expose that Sri Lankan tail. Then hopefully we can take advantage of that.”

Today was easily the most competitive day of the series so far, with three Sri Lankan batsmen making half-centuries.

England only claimed seven wickets over the course of the day, but having cruised to an innings victory at Headingley and dominated the opening two days at Chester-le-Street, Finn always felt there would be a point where Sri Lanka rallied.

“It’s been a good hard slog,” he said. “We expected Sri Lanka to come out with a lot more application in their second innings, and they showed a lot of intent early in their innings with their running between the wickets.

“The wicket isn’t a 100 all out wicket, that was an anomaly of a performance in that first innings, and I think 300 for five is a good tough day’s Test cricket.

“We didn’t have any pre-conceived ideas. In an ideal world we would have wrapped it up today, but we’ve had three bowling innings where pretty much everything has gone perfectly. On this particular wicket, it was always going to be tough to get ten wickets in a day two days in a row.

“I thought we bowled well and applied ourselves well, which we had to do on that wicket because it is very slow and very low.”

Finn has been the least effective of England’s five seamers over the course of the series so far, but the Middlesex paceman showed signs of rediscovering some of his best form in today’s evening session.

He gave Silva something of a going over prior to dismissing him, and displayed the kind of aggression that has occasionally been lacking from his make-up.

“I was trying to run in as hard as I could,” he said. “It’s no secret that I’ve been searching for rhythm a little bit this summer and through this series. It’s been there in patches, and it hasn’t been there in patches, which was obviously frustrating from my point of view.

“I feel as though it’s getting there, and spells like that where you do charge in and try to smash the deck as hard as you can help with your rhythm. That’s a good head space to get into.”

* Tickets for tomorrow’s play are priced £25 for adults and £5 for concessions, but everyone attending will receive a free ticket for Wednesday night’s T20 Blast game between Durham and Nottinghamshire.