Steven Finn believes England can still beat Sri Lanka by an innings despite the tourists fighting back on day three of the second Test at Chester-le-Street on Sunday.

England asked Sri Lanka to follow on after taking the final two first-innings wickets to earn a 397-run lead, but Kaushal Silva's gritty 60 set the tone for a tough day in the field for England.

Captain Angelo Mathews led the charge with a counter-attacking 80 and Sri Lanka closed 88 runs behind with five second-innings wickets remaining.

Although they were left frustrated by Sri Lanka's increased resistance, Finn thinks England can still close out a second successive heavy victory and secure a Test series win on day four of the match.

"It's been a good, hard day of Test cricket," Finn told Sky Sports. "The wicket has been a bit slow and it's been hard work for the fast bowlers.

"We've had to dig in today and show some fight. We'll be coming back tomorrow to try to get it finished before we have to bat again.

"We expected more of a fight after we got 498 in our innings. It didn't look like a 100 all out wicket for us, but the guys bowled beautifully in the first innings.

"As the game has gone on it has got even better to bat on. We had to fight hard and we'll have to fight hard again tomorrow."

Finn accepted he is struggling for rhythm in his own bowling after only taking one wicket on the day, having Silva caught by Jonny Bairstow after a spell of verbals with the opener.

"[My form] is a little bit up and down I suppose, I'm fighting hard to try and find a rhythm and it's not ideal when I'm fighting with myself.

"After tea I tried to come out and get in a fight with the batsman and it seemed to work a little bit better. As a bowler, when you're struggling for rhythm a bit you tend to look inward and you look at yourself to try and find things that aren't clicking.

"Sometimes the best thing to do is get in a battle with the batsman and that takes your mind away from the technical aspects of bowling.

"There are certainly spells this season where I've felt 100 per cent and there are spells where I haven't, so it's about trying to find that 100 per cent consistently.

"No injuries are on my mind. My body is fine and I'm just trying to battle and take wickets for England."