England captain Joe Root cut a route to his second successive test century 186, but left arm finger spin prodigy Lasith Embuldeniya had his day claiming 7 wickets for 132 runs as Sri Lanka did well to keep England at bay on 339 for 9 for a first innings lead of 42 in a hammer and tong third day of seesawing Sunday drama of the second test at the Galle International Stadium.
Root continued to be a thorn in the flesh to the Sri Lankans who hit back to reduce England to 4 for 132 and 6 for 252 at one stage drying up one end having sent back overnight batsman Jonny Bairstow who added just 4 runs caught by Oshada Fernando off Embuldeniya for 28 and the total 3 for 116.
The tall and lean and lanky 24-year old Embuldeniya proved to be the decisive centerpiece strike weapon for Sri Lanka in a marathon 41 over spell going on to signal his arrival. On the heels of Bairstow’s dismissal he struck again dislodging Dan Lawrence five overs later caught by Lahiru Thirimanne – 4 for 132. The advent of Jos Buttler saw England recover through 97 runs for the fifth wicket with Root going strong. Buttler’s dismissal 229 for 5 giving Fernando his second catch marked debutant Ramesh Mendis’ maiden test wicket and Sri Lanka very much back in the game. When England lost their sixth wicket that of Sam Curran for 13 giving Embuldeniya his fifth wicket England were 252 for 6 in a ding dong contest with Joe Root the prevailing trump card for his side to stopping Sri Lanka’s offensive for a 100-plus first innings lead.
ROOT ON TO 8238 RUNS – 4TH HIGHEST ENGLAND TEST RUN GETTER
The ensuing contest between bat and ball saw Root and England win a decisive wresting phase denying the hosts a quick breakthrough as he added 89 runs with Dom Bess (32 off 95, 4×4) for the seventh wicket before Embuldeniya had him taken by Thrimanne England 333 for 7. But Sri Lanka hit back claiming 2 wickets within the space of 6 runs including the prize wicket of Joe Root to a brilliant direct hit by Oshada Fernando at short leg after Mark Wood had been sent back for 1 giving Thirimanne his fifth catch making it 337 for 8 and 339 for 9. The England captain’s 309-ball marathon innings was studded with 18 boundaries as he became England’s fourth highest test run getter with 8238 runs surpassing Kevin Pietersen, David Gower and Sir Geoff Boycott and behind Alistair Cook 12,472, Graham Gooch 8900 and Alec Stewart 8463.
SRI LANKA 381 (139.3 Overs (RR): 2.73
(Angelo Mathews 110, Niroshan Dickwella 92, Dilruwan Perera 67, Dinesh Chandimal 52, Lahiru Thirimanne 43, James Anderson 6/40, Mark Wood 3/84)
ENGLAND 98/2 O/N, 339/9 (114.2 Overs) RR: 2.96
(Joe Root 186, Joss Buttler 55, Dom Bess 32, Jonny Bairstow 28, Sam Curran 13 Lasith Embuldeniya 7/132)