Colombo: Kevin Pietersen struck 151 for his 20th Test hundred to help England to a 185-run lead over Sri Lanka on Thursday on the third day of the second Test.

Pietersen hit six sixes and 16 fours in 165 balls for his ninth score of 150 or more before being out lbw to spinner Rangana Herath. However, England was firmly in control after it was bowled out for 460 in reply to Sri Lanka's 275 at P. Sara Oval.

Sri Lanka was 4-0 at stumps with nightwatchman Dhammika Prasad and Lahiru Thirimanne safely negotiating the one sole over.

Pietersen shared a partnership of 94 with Ian Bell (18) for the fourth wicket. Alastair Cook (94), Jonathan Trott (64) and captain Andrew Strauss (61) also batted well for England.

Herath recorded his 10th five-wicket haul, finishing with 6-133.

Resuming Thursday on 154-1, England's overnight pair of Cook and Trott extended their partnership to 91 to build on the solid start of 122 by the openers. Dilshan then had Cook caught at slip by captain Mahela Jayawardene.

Cook hit nine boundaries in 278 balls.

Trott was out soon after lunch, caught at slip again by Jayawardene off Herath.

After Trott's dismissal, Pietersen and Bell continued scoring quick runs, rotating the strike and hitting any loose balls.

Pietersen looked especially at ease against the Sri Lankan spinners, who only a week ago guided their team to a 75-run win in the first test.

He reverse-swept Dilshan for two runs to reach his century and leapt and punched the air in celebration.

Pietersen was also warned twice by the onfield umpires for switching his stance as Tillakaratne Dilshan ran up to bowl. Match referee Javagal Srinath has announced that if he or any member of his team repeat the offense again during the innings, Sri Lanka will be awarded five penalty runs.

England is able to push for the series-equaling victory it needs to retain No. 1 spot in the test rankings.

Sri Lanka leads 1-0 in the two-test series.

(Agencies)