Root’s performance gives upper hand for England
LONDON (UK) – A brilliant double century by skipper Joe Root put England in command of the first test against Sri Lanka, but the hosts stalled thoughts of a victory charge by reaching 90 without loss in their second innings at tea on Saturday.
Root’s superb 228 on the third day in Galle, his second highest test score and fourth double-ton, propelled England’s first innings total to 421, and they lead the home side by 196 just past the midway point of the match.
Skittled for 135 in their first innings, Sri Lanka showed far more application with the bat second time around as openers Kusal Perera (55 not out) and Lahiru Thirimanne (34 not out) were watchful.
It remains unlikely Sri Lanka will be able to get into a winning position, but with the potential for rain in Galle ever-present, they will be buoyed in their bid to save the test.
Root was the last batsman out in England’s innings having also passed 8,000 test runs, the seventh England player to do so.
He was caught on the mid-on boundary off spinner Dilruwan Perera (4-109), whose excellent performance on the third morning kept England somewhat in check.
Root expressed frustration at recently failing to convert fifties into hundreds. Last year was the first in his test career that he did not score three figures.
But his control and ability to sweep Sri Lanka’s spinners with great effect on a turning wicket provided a return to form in spectacular fashion.
England resumed the third morning on 320 for four as Root and Jos Buttler (30) scored 52 runs in quick time before Sri Lanka received a bit of luck.
A massive six from Root into the stands left the ball out of shape. When it was replaced, the home side suddenly found movement that had been lacking to that point.
Seamer Asitha Fernando (2-44) removed Buttler and Sam Curran in successive balls, before Dom Bess was run-out in a mix-up with Root as the visitors lost three wickets for the addition of 10 runs.
Perera then bagged the final three wickets on what turned out to be a good morning session for the home side as they picked up six for the addition of 101 runs.