Root Finds Rhythm with Unbeaten 168
By Mustaq Sydeen
England skipper Joe Root celebrated his first century in over a year as he combined with debutant Dan Lawrence to strengthen England’s iron grip on the first Test against Sri Lanka in Galle.
The tourists were 320 for four at the close of day 2, a lead of 185, with Root on the brink of a double ton (168 n.o.). Having failed to reach three figures during 2020, he was undeterred by another 40-minute wait and swept the second ball of the afternoon for the all-important single to reach his ton.
The 30-year-old made 200 not out against the same opposition at Lord’s in 2014, and then 124 against them in Kandy in late 2018 during England’s 3-0 sweep of the series. Root’s ton came from 163 balls.
Debutant Dan Lawrence also played an important knock of 73 before departing, caught by Kusal Mendis at short-leg off Dilruwan Perera, when he fended at a delivery that reared off a length.
Jonny Bairstow (47) and Dan Lawrence were the only casualties on a rain-delayed morning, where Bairstow fell for 47 as he edged a sharply-turning ball from Lasith Embuldeniya to Kusal Mendis at gully once play resumed over an hour late.
After the early break through,Root and Lawrence took England to a commanding position, with both set batsmen teaching the Sri Lankan batters how to strike the ball. The duo put on a 173-run partnership to put the hosts into more trouble.
However,only 53 overs were possible on the second day, with the session after tea washed off, but that was enough for the tourists to move into what looks like an unassailable position.
Lasith Embuldeniya was the pick of the bowlers for Sri Lanka with 3 wickets to his account. DilruwanPerera was the only other bowler to pick up a wicket, while the rest of the bowlers are still struggling to find a perfect line and length.
England’s lead already looks daunting, especially after the hapless display from the hosts on day one, when they were skittled out for 135 after electing to bat first.
Spinner Dom Bess took a career best 5-30, aided by some desperately poor strokes from the hosts, and will be even more of a handful in the second innings.
Sri Lanka 1st innings
L. Thirimanne c J. Bairstow b S. Broad 04
K. Perera c Joe Root b Dom Bess 20
K.Mendis c Jos Buttler b Stuart Broad 00
A. Mathews c Joe Root b S. Broad 27
D. Chandimal c S. Curran b J. Leach 28
N. Dickwella c D. Sibley b Dom Bess 12
D. Shanaka c J. Buttler b Dom Bess 23
W. Hasaranga b Dom Bess 19
D. Perera b Dom Bess 00
L. Embuldeniya Run Out (Jack Leach) 00
Asitha Fernando Not Out 00
Extras: (0b 1lb 1nb 0pen 0w) 02
Total: (46.1 overs) 135 all out
Fall of Wickets: 1-16 Thirimanne, 2-16 Mendis, 3-25 Perera, 4-81 Mathews, 5-81 Chandimal, 6-105 Dickwella, 7-126 Shanaka, 8-126 Perera, 9-130 Embuldeniya, 10-135 De Silva
Bowling: Dom Bess 10.1-3-30-5, Stuart Broad 9-3-20-3, Jack Leach 17-2-55-1
England 1st innings
Z. Crawley c W. Hasaranga b L. Embuldeniya 09
D. Sibley c L. Thirimanne b L. Embuldeniya 04
Jonny Bairstow c Mendis b Embuldeniya 47
Joe Root Not Out 168
D.Lawrence c K.Mendis b D.Perera 73
Jos Buttler Not Out 07
Extras: (7b 0lb 5nb 0w) 12
Total: (94.0 overs) 320-4 Fall of Wickets: 1-10 Sibley, 2-17 Crawley, 3-131 Bairstow, 4-304 Lawrence
To Bat: Curran, Bess, Leach, Wood, Broad
Bowling: Lasith Embuldeniya 38-4-131-3, Dilruwan Perera 28-2-82-1, Wanindu Hasaranga 15-1-63-0, Dasun Shanaka 5-1-16-0, Asitha Fernando 8-0-21-0