KANDY, Sri Lanka (AP) — England put itself in a strong position Friday on the third day of the second test against Sri Lanka before play was suspended by bad light.

The English reached 324-9 and lead by 278 runs. Play was stopped 43 minutes early, at 4:34 p.m., at Pallekele International Stadium.

Play is scheduled to start 15 minutes early on Saturday.

England lost four wickets in the morning session, but captain Joe Root then hit his 15th test hundred.

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"It would be a very special one if we go on to win the game and win the series," Root said. "There were a few filthy hacks in there at times but the way you have to think about batting, the mental approach, different strategies against different bowlers. Makes it really good fun.

With the England top order perishing for the sweep shot, both the conventional and the reverse, Root took a different route playing straight. The 27-year-old Yorkshireman hit some elegant drives and powerful cuts but fell for the reverse sweep, ruled leg before wicket to Akila Dananjaya.

Dananjaya then dismissed first innings top-scorer Sam Curran when he bowled him to pick up his third five-wicket haul in test cricket.

Adil Rashid drove the hat-trick ball to mid-off but lasted only 13 deliveries before being given out leg before wicket to Dananjaya. The batsman got a thick edge onto the pads but England didn't have reviews to contest umpire Sundaram Ravi's decision.

Dananjaya finished 6-106, his career best figures. His bowling has come under a cloud after being reported by match officials as suspect during the test in Galle. The bowler is likely to miss the next test because he has to go overseas for testing.

After the struggle before lunch, England recovered thanks to a 74-run stand between Root and Jos Buttler.

Root then added 82 runs for the seventh wicket with Ben Foakes, who was unbeaten on 51.

Root's chanceless knock came as a big relief for England as he had accumulated only 52 runs in three innings in the series. On all three previous occasions, he had been dismissed by a left-arm spinner, but this time he tackled Malinda Pushpakumara well. It is his second test hundred against Sri Lanka.

"We said we were going to play a certain manner in these conditions," Root said. "I think the temptation with a deficit like that going into the second innings is to play within your shell and be a bit insular but the guys went out and set the tone at top of the order."

Suranga Lakmal, the lone seamer in the Sri Lankan attack, sent down only four overs in the innings as the hosts depended heavily on their four pronged spin attack.

Sri Lanka need to win to stay alive in the three-match series after England took a 1-0 lead in Galle with a comprehensive 211-run win.

"England played lot of sweeps and reverse sweeps and got a lot of runs," said Roshen Silva, Sri Lanka's top scorer in the first innings. "They have got a good score on board. But it's not impossible to get 300 on that wicket."

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