England too good for Sri Lanka
By Mustaq Sydeen
Jonny Bairstow and Dan Lawrence held their nerve in a 52-run unbroken stand to guide England to a comfortable seven-wicket win over Sri Lanka in the first Test in Galle.
England had slumped to 14-3 late on the fourth evening before Bairstow and Lawrence sealed the deal for the tourists with Bairstow notching up an unbeaten 35 off 65 balls and Lawrence finishing on 21 not out.
Into the fifth day with 37 runs to defend (which is a cake walk for the Englishmen), Sri Lanka could have got the perfect start by claiming the wicket of Lawrence in the third over of the morning, but failed to review after Perera rapped him on the pads, and replays showed it would have hit the wicket.
With 9.2 overs in play, Bairstow eventually sealed victory with a boundary when he swept Perera to square leg for England to take a 1-0 lead in the two-Test series.
England had set themselves up for the win on the opening day when Sri Lanka turned in a woeful batting performance and were bowled out for 135. England captain Joe Root then hit 228 runs as England scored 421 for a significant first innings lead. Sri Lanka's batsmen applied themselves much better in their second innings and overhauled the deficit, but five wickets for Jack Leach meant they were unable to set a more competitive target.
England is now unbeaten in nine Tests under Joe Root’s captaincy.They have won four consecutive overseas Tests for the first time since 1957, and claimed five successive wins in Sri Lanka.
Into the second Test which is scheduled for 22 January, experienced all-rounder Moeen Ali still has a chance to take the field after recovering from COVID-19 according to skipper Joe Root.
Ali was quarantined after being the only England player to test positive on arrival in Sri Lanka on 3 Jan., isolated from his teammates for 13 days and missed the first Test.
But the 33-year-old spin bowler and attacking middle-order batsman rejoined the England squad at the weekend and Root said his inclusion in the line-up for the second Test had not been ruled out despite little training time.
“With Mo, I think it’s important that we take it day by day and that we look at where he’s at over the next couple of days,” Root said. “It would be wrong to completely rule him out”.
Sri Lanka First Innings 135 (all out)
Sri Lanka 2nd innings
Kusal Perera c Jack Leach b Sam Curran 62
L. Thirimanne c Jos Buttler b S. Curran 111
Kusal Mendis c Jos Buttler b Jack Leach 15
L. Embuldeniya c D. Sibley b Dom Bess 00
Angelo Mathews c Joe Root b Jack Leach 71
Dinesh Chandimal c Joe Root b Dom Bess 20
Niroshan Dickwella c Jos Buttler b Dom Bess 29
Dasun Shanaka b Jack Leach 04
Wanindu Hasaranga c Joe Root b Jack Leach 12
Dilruwan Perera st Jos Buttler b Jack Leach 24
Asitha Fernando Not Out 00
Extras (7b 1lb 3nb) 11
Total (136.5 overs) 359 all out
Fall of Wickets: 1-101 Perera, 2-155 Mendis, 3-158 Embuldeniya, 4-210 Thirimanne, 5-243 Chandimal, 6-291 Dickwella, 7-296 Shanaka, 8-314 De Silva, 9-352 Perera, 10-359 Mathews
Bowling: Jack Leach 41.5-6-122-5, Dom Bess 33-4-100-3, Sam Curran 11-1-37-2, Stuart Broad 17-11-14-0, Joe Root 11-1-19-0, Dan Lawrence 2-0-10-0
England 1st innings 421 (all out)
Zak Crawley c K. Mendis b L. Embuldeniya 08
Dominic Sibley b Lasith Embuldeniya 02
Jonny Bairstow Not Out 35
Joe Root Run Out Niroshan Dickwella 01
Dan Lawrence Not Out 21
Extras (4b 5lb) 09
Total (24.2 overs) 76-3
Fall of Wickets: 1-3 Sibley, 2-12 Crawley, 3-14 Root
Did Not Bat: Buttler, Curran, Bess, Leach, Wood, Broad
Bowling: Lasith Embuldeniya 12-3-29-2, Dilruwan Perera 11.2-2-34-0, Wanindu Hasaranga 1-0-4-0