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It was a long time coming and the evening shadows were lengthening in Galle but finally Jack Leach broke through in the 60th over to claim England’s first wicket with spin.
This is precisely the kind of situation England will face over the next month, trying to take second innings wickets on turning pitches.
Forget Sri Lanka’s collapse on day one of the first Test against Sri Lanka and Dom Bess’s 5-30. That was freakish. This was more like it. Dogged, determined batsmen ready to work hard for runs and England’s spinners toiling in the unaccustomed position of having to lead the attack.
English cricket simply does not prepare spinners for this kind of situation and it showed as Sri Lanka eased to 156 for two, albeit still 130 behind and in deep trouble with two days to go after Joe Root’s sublime double hundred.
Lahiru Thirimanne, unbeaten on 76, and Kusal Perera, who survived a nasty blow on the hand from Mark Wood to make 62, showed application and determination desperately needed by a Sri Lanka side humbled in their first innings and playing for pride.
They were aided by England who will have to learn fast given there is so little time to work on things outside of Test matches on modern tours. Not only did Leach and Bess struggle for consistent line and length, but Dom Sibley dropped a catch off Thirimanne at gully on 51, the third chance England have missed in the match, and they managed a late collapse too.
Leach was the better spinner but he lacks rhythm after so long out the game, while Bess has searched for consistency throughout the game. Both bowled too many full tosses, something you expect from wrist spinners, but not finger spinners who should have more control over the ball. They shared one for 97 and only bowled four maidens in 33 overs.
Brought up in Taunton, the pair are lucky to have bowled on turning pitches at home, but it is still a rarity in England for a spinner to suddenly have to bowl a side out in the last innings. Green, seaming pitches and matches that rarely last four days have left the likes of Bess and Leach having to learn on the job in Test cricket in Asia. Good luck with that.
England practically wrote Moeen Ali out of the series a few days ago given his 13 days in isolation after testing positive for covid. He emerged from quarantine today and went straight to the ground. Joe Root, with his part-time off spin, offered more threat than Bess. Moeen must be in contention again.
Sri Lanka’s fightback was always likely, and England have been impressive overall given their lack of preparation, but they have relied heavily on Root’s brilliance with the bat.
His 228 fulfilled his vow to lead from the front this year, and he has looked as if he is playing on a different surface to everyone else in the match.
He will know England’s collapse in the morning, losing their last five wickets for 49, was careless. They were well ahead of Sri Lanka and a score of 421 was their fifth above 400 in 12 months, the result of a more patient approach to Test batting, but England discovered on their last tour to India that totals of 400 are sometimes not enough in this part of the world. They have to be greedier.
Root surged past 8,000 Test runs, the second quickest England batsman in terms of innings played (178) to the landmark behind Kevin Pietersen (176) and with an average of 47.09, almost two runs better than anyone else.
Root has a great opportunity in 2021 with so much Test cricket and after a flying start to overtake Graham Gooch’s 8,900 runs to move second behind Sir Alastair Cook in England’s all-time runs scoring list.
It was his fourth double hundred and only Cook and Wally Hammond are ahead of him with more scores above 200 for England. His place among the greats is assured. The question is can he finish the greatest of them all? This year will go a long way to determining that.
Root’’s selflessness was evident when he was the last man out caught at deep midwicket trying to thrash late runs when others in his position might have thought of their average, but by then his team had engineered a collapse from nowhere. They lost three for ten as changing an out of shape ball suddenly brought the previously anonymous Avishka Fernando to life. A touch of late swing induced an edge from Buttler and Sam Curran was bowled first ball between bat and pad to put Fernando on a hat-trick.
Last man Broad successfully reviewed two lbws, to the amusement of his team-mates, but when Root was caught at deep point England had lost their last six wickets for 49.
Sri Lanka’s batting coach, Grant Flower, had described their first innings performance as the worst he had ever seen and it was always going to be harder for England second time around.
Perera tempered his attacking instincts, and along with Thirimanne saw off the new ball. Perera launched Leach down the ground and looked very comfortable against the spinners, but less settled when Wood came on.
He needed lengthy treatment and his hand was strapped up after Wood slammed a short ball into his right hand showing why pace can play a role in these conditions. Perera was never quite the same again and fell throwing everything at a wide long hop from Curran.
It was a gift but England did not take advantage. Kusal Mendis received a fist bump from Root when he arrived, a genuine wish of good luck for a batsman on four consecutive noughts. But Root’s generosity went too far. Instead of crowding an under-pressure opponent, Mendis was allowed room to breathe with Root failing to squeeze with close fielders.
As the light dimmed, Leach found his length, dropping two balls on a perfect spot outside off stump finding the rough. The first shaved off stump and the follow-up turned to draw Mendis forward and find the edge. Buttler took a smart catch. It was a combination built in Somerset, and Leach looked relieved. He has something to build on.
Interesting from Mike Atherton
on Sky just then. "If I could have four England batsmen from the time since I have watched, so the mid 1980s, I would have Gooch, Gower, Pietersen and Root."
Wot no AN Cook? A debate to be had there I'd say, not that I am disagreeing with the former England captain.
Anyhow, we will be back bright (tbc) and early Sunday morning, the action starts at 4.15am.
Joe Root is speaking on Sky Sports
"Very pleasing to be in this position having lost the toss.
"I had a clear method against each individual bowler. I have changed quite a few things. Tried to get more rhythm into my batting, using some triggers when the bowler is running in. I have spent a lot of time just by myself working. [With Covid] that is the advantage of it. There is so much time to look back at things, look back at old footage. I watch footage from cricket around the world, some of the best players like Kane at the minute, playing unbelievably well. I watch and learn how he goes about things, you have to learn off your peers. Keep trying to advance your game. And we have got some fantastic coaches as well, Paul Collingwood, Jacques Kallis and Graham Thorpe on a regular basis, it is great to learn from them.
"I set myself high standards but it won't mean half as much if we don't win. We need to press on and hammer home this advantage. We have to remember to make the first 10, 15 balls really count against each new batter.
"I might have to do a bowler's warm down routine! I am a bit stiff and sore."
Close of play: Sri Lanka 156/2 trail by 130
Lahiru Thirimanne has batted very nicely indeed for his 76* and he has been joined by the nightwatchman Lasith Embuldeniya, a fellow left-hander.
That's it for the day
Bit of a shame but there you go. We got more than was expected.
Sri Lanka trail by 130 runs
Obviously England are still miles ahead in the game, but Sri Lanka showed the skill, judgement and fight that were so conspicuously absent in their first innings. Perera managed to curb his instincts for a nicely made 62. The out-of-form Mendis managed 15. Thirimanne has looked classy and has shown excellent decision-making. Sam Curran was gifted a wicket. Leach and Bess were so-so, Leach getting one wicket with a nice bit of bowling but they look a bit short of being a Test-winning spin pair. England's quicks have tried hard on a pitch that is offering them little or nothing.
England still have every chance of winning by an innings but if Sri Lanka can dig in, we're sure to lose some overs at least to rain and bad light, so you never know...
13 overs to play but I cannot see us getting back on.
Bad light stops play
That is a shame, albeit not a surprise.
OVER 61: SL 156/2 (Thirimanne 76* Embuldeniya 0*)
Here is Dom Bess. Thirimanne takes a quick single, indeed it would have been a disastrous single had Curran picked it up cleanly at square leg. The nightwatchman scuttles home. Embuldeniya sees out the rest of the over by hook or by crook, edging one to slip albeit along the ground.
OVER 60: SL 155/2 (Thirimanne 75* Embuldeniya 0*)
Lasith Embuldeniya, promoted up the card to at as a nightwatchman, survives the one remaining ball of the over.
WICKET! K Mendis c Buttler b Leach 15
That's the stuff, Jack. He was zeroing in on a spot on the pitch in that over, put four balls on an area the size of a napkin. One slid on past the defensive prod and was not far away from upsetting the timbers, shaving off stump. Then next delivery, one that spins and spits and lifts, and that is a superb catch from Jos Buttler. FOW 155/2
The former County colleagues Buttler and Leach congratulate each other, and rightly so. Mendis got a long way forward but not far enough to smother the spin.
OVER 59: SL 155/1 (Thirimanne 75* Mendis 15*)
Here's Mark Woody Wood. Thirimanne, who has batted with skill, style and application, is the man on strike. Talking of application, Wood is bending his back even though the pitch is doing nothing for him. Strangely, one ball swings big style after passing the batsman and Jos has to dive.
The umpires are consulting the light meters...
OVER 58: SL 155/1 (Thirimanne 75* Mendis 15*)
Leach, that replacement ball in his hand, continues. It's a bit gloomy in Galle now. Just gone 5pm there. I would be surprised if we get all of these overs.
OVER 57: SL 154/1 (Thirimanne 74* Mendis 15*)
Mark Wood comes back for a burst. Banging it in around the wicket. There are 17 overs left to bowl in the day.
The ball has got out of shape - haven't we all, duck - and is being changed. Might not be a bad thing for England/
OVER 56: SL 153/1 (Thirimanne 73* Mendis 15*)
Mendis has got that sweep working well. Couple off Leach.
Leach and Bess look like what they are: a likeable and talented pair who have some promise but too many pressure-release balls to be considered a dangerous duo in Tests, as yet.
OVER 55: SL 151/1 (Thirimanne 73* Mendis 13*)
This is looking increasingly comfortable for Sri Lanka, albeit that time and the scoreboard still very much on England's side. Bess is more or less milked here, tho. A full toss, donked away for three. Mendis, who got a pasting at short leg , gives the man fielding there a fright.
OVER 54: SL 145/1 (Thirimanne 68* Mendis 12*)
Mendis been in a terrible trot but here's a generous contribution from his cause thanks to Jack Leach. A tasty full toss that he wallops for four.
OVER 53: SL 139/1 (Thirimanne 67* Mendis 7*)
Ooh that is a shot. Lovely cover drive from Thirimanne as he pings Bess to the fence.
OVER 52: SL 135/1 (Thirimanne 63* Mendis 7*)
Leach to Mendis. Inside edge, to where short leg would be but... isn't. Leach has bowled some good balls without too much luck. It would be a stretch to say that he has been actively unlucky but, had he had some of Bess's good fortune in the first innings, then it would be a different story.
OVER 51: SL 135/1 (Thirimanne 63* Mendis 7*)
Bess comes back and begins with a handy over. Bit flatter and quicker than Leach, but finding some turn nevertheless.
OVER 50: SL 134/1 (Thirimanne 63* Mendis 6*)
Broad toiling. Looks tired. Hard yards now for him. A professional, determined effort from the player and a maiden. No substitute for match practice I guess. He can have a drink.
OVER 49: SL 134/1 (Thirimanne 63* Mendis 6*)
"The spinners have got to bowl better than they are doing," says David Lloyd, drawing on the sort of insights that allowed the England team he coached in the 1990s to achieve the heights they did.
Mendis hanging tough. Sweeps, top edge... lands safe. Buttler and Root could not get there.
OVER 48: SL 130/1 (Thirimanne 62* Mendis 3*)
Thirimanne faces up to Broad, who is bowling from around the wicket and looking to hit the stumps. Thirimanne mis-times a drive into the covers. Hard work for England at the moment. Other than that Sam Curran wicket, the Sibley drop and that Leach LBW review, Sri Lanka have been solid. "Sri Lanka have buckled down to do the hard work," says Kumar Sangakkara on Sky comms.
OVER 47: SL 130/1 (Thirimanne 62* Mendis 3*)
England review an LBW decision. Leach to Thirimanne. He's got this one to straighten to the left hander, who plays across the line and misses. This looks a good shout. Did it just slide across the face of the bat and brush it? UltraEdge is taking a long time to come up. A here we go. No bat.
Pitches off stump from around the wicket and turns - but it turns too much! That was just doing too much and it would have missed leg. He was a long way down. England lose their review.
Lovely bit of bowling later in the over from Jack Leach as he brings Mendis forward, and then beats him with dip and turn.
OVER 46: SL 128/1 (Thirimanne 61* Mendis 3*)
One off the Broad over.
OVER 45: SL 127/1 (Thirimanne 60* Mendis 3*)
Thirimanne reverse sweeps Leach, and it flips well over the head of Root at slip. They run a couple.
OVER 44: SL 123/1 (Thirimanne 57* Mendis 2*)
Stuart Broad comes back on. Full, attacking the stumps. Not trying for pace. Looking to get some seam or cut. Pretty well played by Thirimanne. A maiden, and those have been rare in this innings other than from Broad.
OVER 43: SL 123/1 (Thirimanne 57* Mendis 2*)
Leach can get to work on Mendis, who understandably looks low on confidence. Looks a tougher game now - Leach rags this past a groping, despairing edge.
Earlier in the over, Thirimanne produced a nice revere sweep for four.
OVER 42: SL 118/1 (Thirimanne 52* Mendis 2*)
Thirimanne tucks Curran away for a nice three, and a well-made fifty. And England reward him with a life! He edges the ball to gully, where Sibley moves to his left and drops it. Catchable. Very catchable. Root looks really annoyed, buries his face in his hands.
OVER 41: SL 113/1 (Thirimanne 48* Mendis 1*)
Mendis sweeps for one and grins. Probably the most meaningful single of his career! 0, 0, 0, 0, 1*...
But now another nervy moment as he tries to sweep against the spin, and is hit on the pad. England appeal but elect not to review.
OVER 40: SL 111/1 (Thirimanne 46* Mendis 0*)
Shot of the innings from Thirimanne as he uses the wrists to work Curran to leg for four. Curran persists with his method of attacking the stumps and hoping for a bit of cut or maybe low bounce I guess, although the wicket still playing true.
OVER 39: SL 107/1 (Thirimanne 42* Mendis 0*)
Thirimanne sweeps Leach, but in the air, so I don't think Leach will mind that too much. Mendis survives another three balls. The wait for that run goes on...
OVER 38: SL 102/1 (Thirimanne 38* Mendis 0*)
Mendis gamely blocks the first one, and survives the rest of the over.
This is a good reality check for England after running through SL first innings. There will be many more days like this in the coming weeks and if they can get through this with a win it’ll stand them in good stead
— Chris Stocks (@StocksC_cricket) January 16, 2021
Here comes the Audi Man
K Mendis. He's got four ducks in a row. Joe Root gives him a little fist bump, which Nasser Hussain interprets as a sporting gesture from one pro to another, solidarity for the nightmare of being in terrible form etc. Could be tat, could be a way of psyching him out I guess.
WICKET! Perera c Leach b S Curran 62
Perera has thrown it away. Sam Curran has bowled a filthy long hop outside off stump and the Sri Lankan opener has contrived to slap it straight to Jack Leach on the point fence. Curran grins somewhat sheepishly. I mentioned he was looking for the sucker punch but even he cannot have been expecting that. The England guys are laughing. Dear me. I do hope that England aren't using up all their 2021 quota of luck in this match! FOW 101/1
OVER 37: SL 100/0 (Perera 62* Thirimanne 37*)
Jack Leach comes on. He is eyeing up that round, bowling from around the wicket. Perera is happy to take that on. Dom Sibley is in the game at leg slip. Eager to sweep, Perera gloves one into that region! Now he tucks the ball off his pads for a couple. Assured shot after that though, flicking very fine for four. The ton is up, and Sri Lanka are fighting.
OVER 36: SL 93/0 (Perera 56* Thirimanne 36*)
Thirimanne gets a single off the first ball of the session. Bess throws it in - and the ball hits poor old Perera on the back of the lower leg. Jeez give the guy a break. He's hobbling.
Another single, to Perera. Thirimanne has a go at one he could have left. Curran has cut his pace, even more than usual I mean, and is looking for cutters and sucker punches.
has got three catchers on the leg side. Thirimanne on strike.
A super session from the Lanka openers, they showed skill, judgement and heart. Still a long, long road ahead but they have done well so far.
Sam Curran will resume after tea.
TEA: SL 90/0
The perfect session for Sri Lanka. Realistically, the hosts should not be able to win this match. Even now, they remain 196 runs behind. But that was an excellent opening batting display from Perera and Thirimanne, who have turned things around from the first-innings atrocity. Alan Tyers will return shortly to guide you through until close.
OVER 35: SL 90/0 (Perera 55* Thirimanne 34*)
Bess to deliver what might be the final over before tea. How England would love a breakthrough. Although you have to say Sri Lanka deserve to survive unscathed. And that they do.
OVER 34: SL 88/0 (Perera 53* Thirimanne 34*)
Another delay between overs as more tape is administered to Perera's hand by the Sri Lanka physio. Wood continues to bend his back without concern for the batsmen.
Good news that Moeen is back after his Covid isolation period:
— England Cricket (@englandcricket) January 16, 2021
OVER 33: SL 87/0 (Perera 52* Thirimanne 34*)
There's plenty of grimacing from Perera when he hits the ball, but it doesn't look like it's going to prevent him continuing on his merry way. Thirimanne beats the point fielder for a couple off Bess. England's lead is now less than... 200.
OVER 32: SL 84/0 (Perera 51* Thirimanne 32*)
A measured pull off Wood adds a single for Perera's 50. A fine comeback after the first innings. But he's fortunate not to depart straight after when a brute of a bouncer smashes into his hand and loops into the air, only to land safely a couple of metres away. He looks in a lot of discomfort here and the physio is called on. Plenty of spray is administered and his hand is strapped up during a looooooong delay. Something tells me Wood might follow it up with another bumper...
... he attempts it but Perera, impressively, pulls him away with a minimum of fuss to get off strike, before Thirimanne upper-cuts over gully for two.
OVER 31: SL 79/0 (Perera 49* Thirimanne 29*)
It's a double bowling change, with Bess returning in place of Root. He strays slightly too full, which allows Thirimanne to drop down on one knee and sweep hard for four in front of mid-wicket. This excellent opening partnership continues.
OVER 30: SL 74/0 (Perera 48* Thirimanne 25*)
Time for Wood to try and ramp it up again. His first spell produced a fiery two overs and he's immediately exceeding 90mph. Perera spots a short one though and pulls beautifully right in front of his eyes for four runs through mid-wicket.
OVER 29: SL 68/0 (Perera 43* Thirimanne 24*)
Root: bowl ball, pick up ball, bowl ball, pick up ball, quick, and again, and again. And before you know it the over has passed with one run added and little more excitement than a half-appeal at one that beats the outside edge.
OVER 28: SL 67/0 (Perera 43* Thirimanne 23*)
That's a very nice shot from Perera: full face of the bat, nice and straight, pushing Leach for three down the ground. There have been very few problems for these two batsmen of late and they are going about their business wisely, reining in the rashness we saw from many of the Sri Lankan batsman in the first innings, but still keeping the scoreboard moving.
Oh hold on, what have we here? Was that a drop off the last ball? It's a harsh description but the ball hit Bairstow's shin on the full at short-leg so I guess it must be described as such. Came off the face of Perera's bat.
OVER 27: SL 62/0 (Perera 40* Thirimanne 21*)
Root is into his fifth over now. He's pitching the ball noticeably full. Perhaps too full, which is negating the spin. Another couple of singles.
OVER 26: SL 60/0 (Perera 39* Thirimanne 21*)
A change of angle now for Leach, who goes round the wicket, perhaps to make the sweep harder to play for these two left-handers. Plenty of chat on commentary about the spin being slow off the pitch. "This looks like it's died a touch," says Bumble. Or maybe it's the bowlers. Two more singles.
OVER 25: SL 58/0 (Perera 38* Thirimanne 20*)
This is exactly the type of opening partnership Sri Lanka have lacked in recent years. Root continues and is tickled for one. He really does rattle through his overs.
OVER 24: SL 57/0 (Perera 38* Thirimanne 19*)
Oh, there we go! Perera has been so restrained in this innings, but decides to skip down the track and hit Leach with the spin over cow corner for six. And he immediately follows up with a powerful sweep for four through mid-wicket. Kumar Sangakkara - on commentary - had just been saying how Perera need not put all his attacking shots away. It seems he got the memo.
Sri Lanka are fighting back - and what a way for Perera to take them past 50, launching Leach over long-on for six! 🔥
They're 51-0, still 235 behind England...
📺 Watch #SLvENG 👉 https://t.co/SMbnhqovjC
📱 Blog 👉 https://t.co/RR57cPxJQj pic.twitter.com/jGFtpRbPf7
— Sky Sports Cricket (@SkyCricket) January 16, 2021
OVER 23: SL 45/0 (Perera 27* Thirimanne 18*)
Another over trickles by. One run from it. Minimal fuss. Perhaps time for Root to take himself off and change it up again?
OVER 22: SL 44/0 (Perera 26* Thirimanne 18*)
Sweep time to Leach. Perera picks up a single from his, before Thirimanne drills one straight into Bairstow's upper shin at short-leg. Thankfully, Bairstow has protection there. It's a grim place to field in this match, as Mendis knows all too well from England's innings.
This is already the biggest opening partnership Thirimanne has been involved in against England. This is the eighth time he's opened the batting against them. #SLvEng
— The CricViz Analyst (@cricvizanalyst) January 16, 2021
OVER 21: SL 41/0 (Perera 24* Thirimanne 17*)
Ooh, nice bit of rip for Root there, generating plenty of turn from the footholes. The England skipper is using the crease nicely, going wide and then tight to the stumps before flighting one up and tempting Thirimanne into a prod to beat the bat. Good bowling. One more run.
OVER 20: SL 40/0 (Perera 23* Thirimanne 17*)
It's a change of ends for Leach, who returns to the attack and immediately lands one in the foot marks outside Perera's off stump, prompting a puff of dust. Just a single from the over.
OVER 19: SL 39/0 (Perera 22* Thirimanne 17*)
Into the 19th over of the innings and England are already on their sixth bowler with Root deciding to have a tweak. He is immediately cut away for two by Perera after some fine work by Wood prevents a boundary. A thick outside edge then brings two more for Thirimanne.
OVER 18: SL 34/0 (Perera 19* Thirimanne 15*)
Suitably refreshed, Bess pushes a quicker delivery past Thirimanne's outside edge to spark yelps from all those around the bat. Tight outside-off-stump lines from Bess, round the wicket to the left-hander, and the result is a maiden.
Drinks: Sri Lanka 34/0 (Perera 19* Thirimanne 15*)
Sri Lanka have trimmed the deficit to 252 and their openers have played well in those 17 overs. Here's Ben Bloom.
OVER 17: SL 34/0 (Perera 19* Thirimanne 15*)
Perera looks to me like he fancies a big shot. Goes for the heave over long on here but inside edge. Stopped by the bowler. Turn and spin here! This rags and Perera is lucky that it evades leg slip, he was not in control of that one.
Time for drinks.
OVER 16: SL 32/0 (Perera 18* Thirimanne 14*)
Bess to Thirimanne, it's a full toss but he doesn't cash in. You have to say, this has been untroubled stuff for the openers so far, if they can just keep their heads.
OVER 15: SL 30/0 (Perera 17* Thirimanne 13*)
Leach warming to his work, around the wicket with his left-armers, there's a leg slip and a short leg to go with the vanilla slip. Thirimanne hacks, unattractively, across the line to pick up one to mid on.
OVER 14: SL 27/0 (Perera 16* Thirimanne 11*)
Just one off the over from Bess here.
OVER 13: SL 26/0 (Perera 16* Thirimanne 10*)
Here's Jack Leach! They toss him the ball, remind him of the rules, and tell him to have a crack. He's missed a lot of cricket recently. Decent enough over here.
I think this is a massive innings for Sri Lanka not just in this game or series, but as a yardstick of where their Test cricket is heading. If Leach and Bess spin them out with unplayable stuff then that's one thing, but if not... We desperately need a contest here #SLvENG
— James Coyne (@coynejames) January 16, 2021
OVER 12: SL 25/0 (Perera 16* Thirimanne 9*)
Bess to Perera. He has got a slip and a gully. Root asks him if he wants a silly point instead. As Mike Atherton and Ian Ward say on the TV: why not have both?
Bit previous to jump on Joe Root, after the small matter of a double century and being miles ahead in this game, but if you were to find fault with England so far this innings you might ask why they have not used another catcher. There were those edges through gully off Broad earlier, for instance.
Perera lunges forward here and is hit by one that hits edge then pad as they come down together. Had that been the other way around, LBW would have been in play.
OVER 11: SL 23/0 (Perera 15* Thirimanne 8*)
Mark Wood getting some serious pace going here, that's all 90mph or better. Bangs in a bumper that Thirimanne has to duck quite smartly. But still a largely thankless task bowling quick on this.
OVER 10: SL 21/0 (Perera 14* Thirimanne 7*)
Bess is bowling from the other end to the first innings. Perera treating this over with respect.
OVER 9: SL 21/0 (Perera 14* Thirimanne 7*)
Double change brings Mark Wood into the fray. Gets it up to 90mph but this is not a "you get in what you put out" sort of pitch. No assistance for him. Worked through the legside for four by Thirimanne, nicely played.
OVER 8: SL 16/0 (Perera 13* Thirimanne 3*)
Early bowl for Dom Bess, chance to build on his five-fer in the first innings. There are three rather easy singles as he gives a little bit too much width, but he zeroes in as the over goes on. Fifth ball turns away from Thirimanne sharply, and then the last ball is the arm ball, sliding on and not far past the stumps.
OVER 7: SL 13/0 (Perera 11* Thirimanne 2*)
Mendis, the next man in, has already bagged the old vorsprung durch technik and is in danger of upgrading that to the legendary Olympic rings. Four ducks in a row already. And he was hit fielding so many times yesterday I understand that there is some question as to whether he will bat three. Given his form, he might well take an injury poor chap.
Anyway, Broad to Thirimanne. The opener watchful, digging in. That looks like it might be it for Stuart. Good spell. No assistance from pitch or conditions.
OVER 6: SL 13/0 (Perera 11* Thirimanne 2*)
Perera given some width by Curran, and that's what he likes. He edges through gully! That's the third catchable ball through that vacant area. But now a legit shot, more than legit, a cracking shot: width from Sam and Perera flays that through the offside. But the strength is often closely related to weakness, at the bat and in life, and here's Perera getting involved with one he should have left alone, fencing flamboyantly at a fifth stump delivery and lucky to miss it.
OVER 5: SL 5/0 (Perera 3* Thirimanne 2*)
Solid start from both sides. Broad hits Thirimanne on the pads but there's no serious LBW question, didn't pitch in line.
OVER 4: SL 5/0 (Perera 3* Thirimanne 2*)
Curran finding just a suggestion of swing, albeit from a bit wide of the stumps. There's a well-run single.
OVER 3: SL 4/0 (Perera 3* Thirimanne 1*)
Perera loves to carve it over the off side so Broad is coming around the wicket and cramping him for room. He's running in, Stuart. Touches 88mph in this maiden over.
OVER 2: SL 4/0 (Perera 3* Thirimanne 1*)
Sam Curran will share the new ball. Sri Lanka can hardly bat worse than they did in the first innings, and begin their second dig 286 in arrears. It looks cloudy there, and the hosts will be praying for rain but it goes without saying that England are red-hot favourites, thanks mostly to a splendid double century from their skipper Joe Root.
Accurate, rather gentlemanly start from Sam Curran, little bit of shape and a solid rather than spectacular line and length at a click under 80mph. Twice he gets a little straight, and twice he is turned to leg for a single apiece to the two left-handed opening bats.
OVER 1: SL 2/0 (Perera 2* Thirimanne 0*)
I mentioned that Broad has no gully. Second ball of the day, Perera gets a thick edge through just that region. Second ball takes the shoulder of the bat and loops just short of where gully would be. So something to think about there, then. Rest of the over is probing outside off. Perera leaves well.
Stuart Broad has the ball
he produced a typically entertaining cameo with the bat just then, but he returns now to his day job. The first task will be to bowl at Kusal Perera. He's got a couple of slips and no gully. England have a lead of 286.
Tyers here. If you're just joining us, England were bowled out shortly before lunch in Galle, and you join us as the afternoon session begins, with Sri Lanka's openers at the crease.
Sri Lanka bowled pretty well earlier. England added 101 for their last six wickets.
LUNCH: England 421 all out
That is the end of the first session. Both teams will be happy enough with their work today. Sri Lanka took the six wickets they needed to bring an end to England's innings, but the tourists continued to accumulate at a healthy rate, guided by the outstanding Root. England lead by 286 runs. Back in a bit.
WICKET! Root c Embuldeniya b Perera 228
Root decides to play a big shot, but doesn't quite get hold of it and picks out deep mid-wicket who takes the catch on the boundary rope. An excellent innings comes to an end. The third-highest ever by a visiting batsman in Sri Lanka. FOW 421/10
OVER 117: ENG 421-9 (Root 228 Broad 11)
Root laughed his head off when Broad was reprieved a second time in that last over by the way. He is on strike to the returning Fernando now and continues to deal in singles. No change of tact from the set batsman - he's happy to continue as before, while Broad does Broad things. That's it Stu: stand tall and HOICK through square-leg for four. He tries the same shot off the next ball and succeeds in top-edging over the keeper's head for another boundary. This is peak Broad.
OVER 116: ENG 412-9 (Root 227 Broad 3)
Another attempted sweep from Broad, but this time he misses the ball, which lands on his front toe and the umpire's finger goes up. England use one of their remaining reviews... which overturns the decision! Oh, that is a joke. Because it hit Broad on the full, the ball tracking has it continuing on its path down leg side. In reality it most definitely would have turned and smashed middle stump, but the technology has no way of knowing that. Sheer silliness.
Two balls later we go again. Broad tries to sweep again, Broad misses again and Broad is struck on the front pad again. The umpire raises his finger again, England review again... and this time the impact was outside the line of off stump. Another lbw overturned. Broad = the review king.
Stuart Broad has twice been given out lbw - and twice successfully overturned the decision on review! 🏏
England 412-9, lead Sri Lanka by 277 #SLvENG
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📱 Blog 👉 https://t.co/RR57cPxJQj pic.twitter.com/RsLovAFAP3
— Sky Sports Cricket (@SkyCricket) January 16, 2021
OVER 115: ENG 411-9 (Root 226 Broad 3)
Embuldeniya returns and Root takes a single from the first ball. Time to have some fun, Stuart? A first sweep brings two runs, a second yields a single and a third a dot. Diminishing returns.
OVER 114: ENG 406-9 (Root 224 Broad 0)
So what version of Stuart Broad do we have today? There is usually only one: attack. But will he look to simply support his captain? Hahahahaha, he's almost bowled first ball looking to sweep hard and missing it entirely. He really does only play one way.
WICKET! Wood c Dickwella b Perera 2
Root turns Perera's first ball for a single into the leg side, which leaves Wood five balls. Will he just try and survive? No. He cuts for two and then tries to sweep one, but toe-ends it straight up into the air for the wicketkeeper to take the easiest of catches. FOW 406-9
OVER 113: ENG 403-8 (Root 223 Wood 0)
A big lbw shout from Shanaka as Root is hit on the front pad having taken a walk down the track and attempted to turn the ball into the leg side. The umpire shakes his head though and Sri Lanka have no reviews remaining. Replays show the England captain was hit outside the line of off stump. Very good decision. Root then succeeds when playing the same shot a couple of balls later, whipping a full ball with impeccable timing for four straight of mid-wicket. Lovely.
Leach and Bess will like the look of this:
Average turn in Galle in this match:
Day 1 - 4.7°
Day 2 - 5.8°
Day 3 - 6.6°#SLvEng
— The CricViz Analyst (@cricvizanalyst) January 16, 2021
OVER 112: ENG 398-8 (Root 218 Wood 0)
The captain is running out of partners here. Can Wood hang around a bit? He survives the over, which is the first task completed. I suspect Root will look to farm the strike more now.
WICKET! Leach lbw Perera 4
Another bowling change means Perera will have a crack... and the umpire's finger is quickly raised with Leach going back to one and struck just above the knee. That looked pretty straight, but England opt to review it anyway... and the result is proof that it was smashing into the top of middle stump. FOW 398-8
OVER 111: ENG 397-7 (Root 217 Leach 4)
A change of bowling sees Shanaka come into the attack with his right-arm medium pacers in the mid/high-70s. There's a huge appeal for caught behind after Leach has a swish outside off stump. The umpire says not out, but Sri Lanka immediately opt to review and the verdict is... a flat line. Not a murmur as ball went past bat, which means Sri Lanka have now used up all their reviews.
OVER 110: ENG 396-7 (Root 216 Leach 4)
Oh hello, Jack! Now it's his turn to sweep, swatting Embuldeniya hard through mid-wicket and picking up four runs for his troubles.
OVER 109: ENG 391-7 (Root 215 Leach 0)
Drinks have been taken with just over an hour remaining in this slightly extended opening session. Play continues and Root adds two more from a gentle nudge off Fernando thanks to a woeful misfield at cover. A rare short delivery then receives the treatment from the England captain, swivelling and pulling fine from chest height to help it on its way for four.
Kohli = 25.9%
Smith = 11.1%
Williamson = 16.7%
Pietersen = 13%
Cook = 15.2%
Gooch = 10% https://t.co/RLuimmXJfm
— Sam Morshead (@SamMorshead_) January 16, 2021
OVER 108: ENG 384-7 (Root 208 Leach 0)
Embuldeniya has had a hefty workload in this match. He's into his 43rd over here and decides to go over the wicket to Root to target the rough outside leg stump. The England captain nudges a single off the first ball, which leaves Leach the rest of the over. Big turn into the left-handed batsman, but five balls negotiated.
OVER 107: ENG 383-7 (Root 207 Leach 0)
A mini-collapse here with England losing three wickets for 10 runs in 12 balls. How will Leach fare against Fernando? Solid in defence. Just hang around for your captain at the other end.
This stat rather tells you the story of Root's innings:
Root has now played 50 sweeps (including reverse sweeps and slog sweeps) in this innings. That's the highest by any batsman in a single innings since records began in 2006. #SLvEng
— The CricViz Analyst (@cricvizanalyst) January 16, 2021
OVER 106: ENG 382-7 (Root 206 Leach 0)
Root has a double-hundred! Fittingly, he brings it up with yet another sweep to Embuldeniya, which rockets away to the boundary. A great innings from a great batsman. Wonderful. And he immediately repeats the shot with the same result. Back-to-back swept boundaries. Only one other man has passed 47 in this match... Root has gone beyond 200. The fourth time he has done so in Test cricket.
WICKET! Bess run out 0
What have we here? Root paddles a sweep and charges down the other end in search of a single. Bess wants nothing to do with it, but is forced to sacrifice his wicket and is run out by the best part of 15 yards. FOW 382-7
OVER 105: ENG 372-6 (Root 196 Bess 0)
There have only been two hattricks for Sri Lanka in Test cricket. Can Fernando provide a third? Bess is the new man and you have to assume he won't have prepared for this innings for long given how serene Root and Buttler were going. But his defence is solid enough and he survives. A double-wicket maiden from Fernando. Excellent, excellent bowling and just what the hosts needed.
WICKET! Curran b Fernando 0
Oh my word, Fernando is on a hattrick! This new ball is working wonders. Full and straight immediately to Curran and his defence isn't good enough. That ball came back in the air into the left-hander and that was that. FOW 372-6
WICKET! Buttler c Dickwella b Fernando 30
The ball has stopped passing through the metal measuring thingy, which means the umpires will change it for another. Will it provide Sri Lanka better luck? Yes! Immediately! The very first delivery with it is a cracker from Fernando, full enough to tempt Buttler into a nibble before nipping off the surface and taking the edge on the way through to the keeper. FOW 372-5
OVER 104: ENG 372-4 (Root 196 Buttler 30)
Single, single, single... and then Root skips down the track to lift Perera for a lovely six back over his head! Maximum yield with a minimum of fuss. Excellent batting.
The first 10 overs of today brought 52 runs.
OVER 103: ENG 364-4 (Root 189 Buttler 29)
With the run rate high, Sri Lanka throw the ball back to Fernando to try and shore things up, with immediate effect thanks to a tight off-stump line. Two singles from it.
OVER 102: ENG 362-4 (Root 188 Buttler 28)
The pitch is certainly turning, but neither batsman has been in much trouble at all so far today. The sweeps and reverse-sweeps continue. As do the singles.
This is England's highest score in the first innings of an overseas Test series since the 537 they made in Rajkot in 2016. #SLvEng
— The CricViz Analyst (@cricvizanalyst) January 16, 2021
OVER 101: ENG 359-4 (Root 187 Buttler 26)
Hmm... the groundstaff are poised with the covers just beyond the boundary rope. Is rain incoming?
Embuldeniya continues, but he's too full and Buttler turns it into a full toss by reverse sweeping well in front of his body and beating backward point to claim four. The next delivery is then dropped too short, so Buttler responds by rocking back and heaving it over cow corner for a one-bounce four. Fine batting, forcing the errors from the bowler. And Root then gets in on the act with a cracking sweep to the square-leg boundary. Runs aplenty. England's lead is now 224.
OVER 100: ENG 346-4 (Root 183 Buttler 17)
Considering there are two spinners operating, the length of time taken between each over is outrageous. I suppose Sri Lanka have no real reason to hurry things along. A couple of singles off Perera brings up England's highest ever total in Tests at Galle, and they are followed by a couple more. You have to say, this has all been rather serene so far today for the men at the crease. It has been 184 balls since the last maiden. That's more than 30 overs.
OVER 99: ENG 342-4 (Root 181 Buttler 15)
Short and dollopy from Embuldeniya, which allows Root plenty of time to step back and pull through mid-wicket for two. The left-armer ups his length for the rest of the over, without any alarm at all for the England batsmen.
OVER 98: ENG 338-4 (Root 178 Buttler 14)
Sweeps and reverse-sweeps galore. Perera then asks a question of the umpire after hitting Root on the pad from a delivery that ripped, but it was too high and outside off.
🏴 8,000 Test runs for Joe Root! 🏴
Only @KP24 has hit the milestone for England in fewer innings 💪
Kevin Pietersen: 176 innings
Joe Root: 178
Sir Alastair Cook: 181
Graham Gooch: 189
Sir Geoffrey Boycott: 190
David Gower: 195
Alec Stewart: 221#SLvENG pic.twitter.com/vo7i3pwaaT
— The Cricketer (@TheCricketerMag) January 16, 2021
OVER 97: ENG 337-4 (Root 178 Buttler 13)
Poor Fernando. Unsurprisingly, that's him done and it's a return to more spin with Embuldeniya called into the attack in his place. Root begins with a pair of twos: one slapped out to the cover sweeper and another swept to the man out on the leg-side boundary. A couple of singles then ends the over. Those runs were all scored with a minimum of fuss from the batsmen.
OVER 96: ENG 330-4 (Root 173 Buttler 12)
Perera will share duties at the start of the day with his offies. And he beats Buttler all ends up straight away with a rare delivery that doesn't turn and instead skids on past pad, bat and off stump, missing all three by millimetres. Buttler immediately responds by reverse sweeping hard and hitting his way out of trouble for four, before top-edging a more conventional sweep over the keeper's head for a single. It's not easy against spin out there.
OVER 95: ENG 324-4 (Root 172 Buttler 7)
Root will resume on strike to Fernando, who has bowled just eight of the 94 overs in England's innings so far. And the skipper is provided a gift to get the scoreboard moving as Fernando over-pitches outside off stump and Root crunches it through the covers for four. That will do nicely.
A couple of minutes until play resumes. Captain Root continues on 168 and would love a double-hundred. The pitch is turning more and more so it will be no easy task, which is a major issue for Sri Lanka who will have to try and survive when it comes to their second innings.
The next Root?
I have one piece of pre-reading to fling your way before we turn our attention to the on-field action and it is this from our chief cricket writer Scyld Berry: Dan Lawrence's assured debut reminded me of Joe Root's first Test
Here is a snippet:
Uncanny. Several are the differences between Joe Root and Dan Lawrence, but the similarity between their Test debuts is uncanny. Both scored 73 in Asia in highly challenging circumstances in their first Test innings; and both live for cricket, especially batting — and bowling some offspin to while away the hours between innings. It is asking too much of any young batsman to become as consistent as Root, with his 67 scores of 50-plus in his 98 Tests, and Lawrence by nature is more of a dasher, but this similarity — at the outset of their careers at least — offers a delicious prospect.
There are showers scheduled to come and go later in the day but it looks like play should begin on time. I wonder if England will start getting a wriggle on with this poor weather taking time out of proceedings. Mind you, this is only the start of day three and if they get things right they should only need to bat once in this match.
A slightly elongated day in store:
Session 1: 4.15-6.30am (all times GMT)
Session 2: 7.10-9.25am
Session 3: 9.45-11.45am
Welcome to day three of this first Test from Galle, where something would have to go seriously awry for England not to triumph. Perhaps rain is Sri Lanka's best hope. Both of the first two days have been weather-affected, but so swift was Sri Lanka's batting disintegration that the tourists have already amassed a 185-run lead.
Captain Joe Root has been the star of the show, putting any 2020 worries behind him with a wonderful unbeaten 168. Have a read of Tim Wigmore on England's captain right here. And here is a taster:
Where the 2018 Root’s instinctive response to a pressure situation was to counter-attack, this inclination was a little less free-wheeling. Coming in after two early wickets, Root took 30 balls over his first six runs; in defence, he smothered spin with the meticulousness of an archivist poring over a rare manuscript.
Whether in attack or defence, the defining feature of this innings was the decisiveness of Root’s footwork. The worst place to play spin is from an indeterminate position on the crease, neither properly forward nor back - vulnerable to late turn and yet not far back enough to guard against it. England’s top order were often marooned in this awkward position, but Root’s judgement, and alacrity on his feet, helped him avoid this danger zone.
Root shared a fourth-wicket stand of 173 with debutant Dan Lawrence, who provided 73 of the runs in what was a dashing first outing in international cricket.
The Essex batsman instantly delivered on some of the lofty expectations which have been placed on him as one of the county game's most highly-rated performers, mixing obvious intent with a wider scoring arc than might have been expected following Sir Alastair Cook's pre-match warning of his leg-side tendencies.
With Rory Burns, Ollie Pope and Ben Stokes all currently absent for different reasons, Lawrence certainly did enough to suggest selection meetings may soon become tricky affairs.
"I was very impressed, I thought he played magnificently well," said Root. "It's great to see guys coming in and having success straight away. But the most important thing is they see that as the start, something to build on and don't just be happy with it. He showed exactly why he deserved his opportunity to play and it's the start of something very special for him."
As for his plans for today, Root said: "I'm trying to make [his hundred] another really big one and drive the game forward. We want to put them under pressure and bat just once."
Play gets underway at the slightly earlier time of 4.15am (GMT) to try and make up for some of the overs lost to rain.