England’s iron grip dictate of the first of two ICC Test Championship tests as early as the second day’s play in the insulation of 320 for 4 wickets leading Sri Lanka to the good measure of 185 runs showcased on a captain’s unbeaten 168 and a rousing debut 73 by Dan Lawrence underscored the vast difference between the two sides in strictly terms of the defining endurance yardstick that Test cricket is all about at the Galle International Stadium on Friday. This sword edged gallop despite the final session being washed out by rain reflected the ominous thrust by Joe Root and company.
Indeed, it will be a tough ask for Sri Lanka staring down the barrel of defeat that will demand a herculean performance if the host team is to wriggle out of given their lackluster performance thus far.
The Sri Lankan bowling attack came apart, bar spinner Lasith Embuldeniya, who accounted for 3 of the England wickets in a virtual singlehanded role that found no support in the run avalanche that produced 193 runs on the second day’s opposition unleash in the contrasting blends of controlled stroke play by Root consuming 254 deliveries spiced with 12 boundaries, and a macho Lawrence half century off 150 balls in the glint of 6 boundaries and a six off Embuldeniya. That the gifted 23–year old fell short of a magical dream debut century by 27 runs was the bitter part of it as far as personal milestones go. But on the other end the day was a glow for skipper Root who came out of the hibernation of a century less 2019 for his 18th Test ton and eighth 150 score for the highest by an England batsman in Sri Lanka surpassing Kevin Peitersen’s highest of 151 in Colombo in 2012.
England made light of the early loss of overnight losing overnight batsman Jonny Bairstow without addition to his 47 for the addition of 4 runs in the days second over when Embuldeniya had him well held by Kusal Mendis to an outside edge for his third wicket, but the Root-Lawrence 173-run fourth wicket alliance proved the fermenting stranglehold. The England captain going on to convert his overnight 66 to the long elusive three figure mark the highlight following a delayed start of over one hours play lost.
England was also helped by flagging fielding while Lawrence who danced down the wicket to Embuldeniya survived a leash from wicket-keeper Niroshan Dickwella when on 68. But 5 runs later he fell to Dilruwan Perera holing out a catch off his glove to Mendis at short leg.
SRI LANKA 1ST INNINGS 135 (46.1 Overs) RR: 2.92
(Dinesh Chandimal 28, Angelo Mathews 27, Dasun Shanaka 23, Kusal Janith Perera 20, Wanindu Hasaranga 19, Niroshan Dickwella 12, Dom Bess 5/30, Stuart Broad 3/20, Jack Leach 1/55)
ENGLAND 127/2 O/N, 320/4 (94 Overs) RR: 3.40
(Joe Root n.o. 168, Dan Lawrence 73, Jonny Bairstow 47, Lasith Embuldeniya 3/131, Dilruwan Perera 1/82)