England's Jonathan Trott made a serene double century on day four of the first npower Test against Sri Lanka but Kevin Pietersen was left to answer some familiar questions after another failure against left-arm spin.
Having resumed on 125, Trott made a relentless 203, the highest score by an England batsman against Sri Lanka and his second double hundred.
But although a stumps score of 491 for five represents a lead of 91 the poor weather in Cardiff looks likely to ensure a draw.
Ian Bell also weighed in with an unbeaten 98, but Pietersen's much-discussed problems with slow left-arm bowlers continued to confound him as he was pinned lbw by a Rangana Herath shooter for just three.
While Trott's achievements are increasingly remarkable - he now has four scores over 150 and an astonishing average approaching 70 - Pietersen's 19th Test dismissal to left-armers was perhaps the most discussed statistic of the day.
Rain again kept the players off until 2.30pm and forecasts suggest England will not have sufficient time to press for victory.
Trott and Alastair Cook, as they did several times during the victorious Ashes campaign, put on a mammoth stand of 240 yesterday and will have envisaged extending it against an attack that lacks the star quality of Muttiah Muralitharan and Lasith Malinga.
As it was they added only 11 to what was already an English record partnership against Sri Lanka before Cook fell.
The opener's long stay at the crease ended in untypical fashion when he went too hard at a seaming delivery from Farveez Maharoof and sent a thick edge into Prasanna Jayawardene's gloves at the wicket. He scored only four on the day but finished with a fine 133 in 274 balls.
That brought Pietersen to the crease after 74 overs - and five hours - of waiting. It also reopened some familiar sub-plots.
Pietersen spent much of the winter watching Cook and Trott compiling huge stands and before this Test launched a passionate defence when his hunger for the game, not to mention his place in the team, was questioned.
Pietersen was off the mark with two off Maharoof but was immediately skittish against Herath, Sri Lanka's left-arm spinner.
He almost found himself run out by silly point after advancing down the track then prodding defensively.
Moments later, Herath got one to stay devilishly low, leaving the the poorly-placed Pietersen stricken on the back foot.
Umpire Billy Doctrove judged that Pietersen had got some bat on it but, after a referral and a lengthy wait, he was given out.
Pietersen stood for a moment in disbelief before trudging from the field.
Bell showed him how it should be done, taking a couple of steps down the track to his 10th delivery and belting Herath for a straight six.
Trott followed that with a flowing drive for four off Maharoof.
Bell had some luck to go with his positive start, first earning four from a woeful misfield, then being dropped on 19 by Kumar Sangakkara at gully.
He did well to keep a rising Thisara Perera delivery down immediately after the tea interval and cashed in with a handsome cut for four three balls later.
Trott worked Herath away for four more in the following over to move past 150 for the fourth occasion in what is becoming a remarkable Test career.
Any momentum created by those two strokes evaporated as Sri Lanka settled in for a period of containment, with Perera hanging the ball outside off with a field to match.
Bell scored the first boundary in 10 overs, albeit unintentionally, with a big inside edge and brought up his half-century with a slightly more elegant pull off the bowling of Perera.
Sri Lanka's fielding has left plenty to be desired in Cardiff but Maharoof helped get Trott restarted with the most lamentable effort yet, farcically failing to stop the ball.
Trott eased Suranga Lakmal to the mid-off ropes to go past Graham Gooch's record of 174 against Sri Lanka in 1991 as England began to build a lead.
By now it was all about landmarks, with Bell eyeing three figures and Trott closing in on 200.
Trott got there first, whipping his 398th ball for a single, but was bowled by Tillakaratne Dilshan for 203 five overs before the close.
Bell ended the day two short of his 13th Test century.Reuse content