Minus skipper Dimuth Karunaratne who pulled out through a recurring thumb injury at the Wanderers, Sri Lanka’s batting miscarriage continued with the hosts shot out for 135 on a Dom Bess 5 for 30 as England further drove home the box seat advantage recovering from 1 for 10 and 2 for 17 to an imposing 127 for 2 on the opening day of the first Test match versus England at the Galle International Stadium on Thursday. The inapt Lankan innings on a batting friendly surface lasted 46.1 overs at a run rate of 2.92
England’s not out batsmen were skipper Joe Root on 66 off 115 with 5 boundaries and Jonny Bairstow on 47 off 91 with 2 boundaries. Both openers Dom Sibley (4) and Zak Crawley (9) were dismissed by Lasith Embuldeniya with the former caught by Thirimanne and Crawley by Hasaranga.
Carrying the double handicaps of two of their most technically proficient batsmen including Dhananjaya de Silva still injury sidelined from the thigh injury suffered in South Africa, Sri Lanka’s decision to bat first after stand in captain Dinesh Chandimal won the toss backfired. First to go was Lahiru Thirimanne (04) caught Bairstow bowled Stuart Broad for 04 and Kusal Mendis for what was his fourth consecutive duck caught behind by Joss Butler off Broad with the total 16. From there the precipitation was hastened with the third wicket at 25 that of Kusal Janith Perera for 20 by a poor shot reverse sweeping and top edging Bess for a lollypop slip catch to England skipper Joe Root.
The short lived defiance by the side’s most seasoned campaigner Angelo Mathews, back from injury of the missed tour of South Africa, saw Sri Lanka recover to 81 as he added 56 for the fourth wicket with Dinesh Chandimal before edging Stuart Broad to Root. Mathews made 54-ball resistance for 27 comprised a six and a boundary as England dealt another quick blow getting rid of Chandimal with no addition to the total – 5 for 81. He hit just the solitary boundary in his 71-ball innings. The sixth wicket pair of Niroshan Dickwella and Dasun Shanaka took Sri Lanka past the 100 mark, but with the total 105 Dickwella was dismissed by Bess for 12 while three runs later Shanaka fell for 23 off 48 (3×4) giving Bess his third wicket caught behind by Jos Buttler in what was in the realm of the unfortunate. Shanaka’s well timed reverse sweep hit Johnny Bairstow’s ankle at short leg as he jumped to evade the ball which then richotted to the safe hands of Buttler. No’s 9 Dilruwan Perera and 10 Lasith Embuldeniya falling for ducks while Wanindu Hasaranga was last man out bowled by Bess for 19 off 22 inclusive of 2 boundaries.
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 (41 Overs) RR: 3.09
(Joe Root n.o. 66, Jonny Bairstow n.o. 47, Lasith Embuldeniya 2/55)