Report

Lawrence makes fifty on debut as vacationers take commanding lead

Tea: England 320 for 4 (Root 168*, Lawrence 73) lead Sri Lanka 135 by 185 runs

Joe Root‘s first Check century since November 2019 has helped England tighten their grip on the second day of the primary Check in Galle.

Root went by 2020 and not using a century – the primary time in his Check profession he has gone by a full yr with out one – and dropped out of the highest 10 within the ICC’s batting rankings within the course of.

However right here he has supplied an indication of his enduring class in negating the sharply turning ball with calm authority and transferring to his 18th Check century within the course of. Extra importantly, he has prolonged England’s result in 185 at tea on the second day with six first-innings wickets nonetheless in hand. Sri Lanka must bat considerably higher than they managed within the first innings if they’re to make England bat once more.

In the event that they require any instance of easy methods to go about issues, they might do far worse than emulate Root. Together with his judgement of when to go ahead and again, his capacity to manoeuver the ball into gaps and his capacity to comb each in entrance and behind sq., he has supplied a masterclass in taking part in spin bowling. Kusal Mendis, at short-leg, has taken so many blows, you watched a boxing referee might need recommended he had taken sufficient punishment.

It’s Root’s eighth rating of 150 or extra in Check cricket and the best rating made by an England participant in a Check in Sri Lanka. The earlier highest was Kevin Pietersen’s 151 made in Colombo in 2012.

Root was given assured assist from debutant Dan Lawrence. The pair added 173 in 43.1 overs – England’s highest ever stand in Assessments in Sri Lanka – for the fourth wicket, with Lawrence shedding little by comparability. Certainly, have been you to place collectively a highlights bundle of the day, it could be Lawrence’s strokes that dominated. Shortly earlier than lunch, he launched Lasith Embuldeniya for a slog-sweep six that recommended England may simply have discovered a person with the character and talent to flourish at this degree. Sterner assessments loom, little question, however this was an achieved first worldwide innings from Lawrence.

Whereas Lawrence was not in a position to emulate the achievement of Ben Foakes, who made a century on debut right here in 2018, this was a massively promising begin from the 23-year-old. Getting off the mark first ball, Lawrence seemed assured from the off and, selecting up the size properly, was comfy to skip down the pitch or go deep into his crease when required.

He did present one probability. Showing to lose focus for a second, he skipped down the pitch to Embuldeniya when he had 68 and was lucky to see the keeper, Niroshan Dickwella, parry the ball previous the slips. A short time later, he obtained one from Dilruwan Perera which spat off the floor, took his glove and ballooned to short-leg. It was a disappointment for Lawrence, in fact, however England may have famous the indicators of degradation within the floor with curiosity.

Root and Lawrence have been helped, it does need to be stated, by some free bowling. Whereas Embuldeniya – who took the primary three wickets to fall – continued to ask questions of the batsmen, he lacked the assist required to construct strain. Perera, specifically, has struggled along with his line and size – a floated full-toss allowed Lawrence to ease his second supply by the covers for 4 – permitting England to select up common singles.

The leg-spinner, Wanindu Hasaranga, was no higher. Lawrence was in a position to minimize, sweep and drive him for boundaries as he struggled along with his size. Hasaranga has conceded greater than four-an-over to this point; in a low-scoring recreation, it’s price Sri Lanka can unwell afford.

Earlier, play was delayed by 70 minutes attributable to rain. When the resumption ultimately got here, Jonny Bairstow fell within the second over of the day with out including to his in a single day rating. Whereas Bairstow might replicate he might have left the ball, Embuldeniya had drawn him ahead properly and gained sharp flip to take the surface edge. Mendis additionally did nicely to cling on to a pointy, low catch.

At that stage, Sri Lanka nonetheless held a slim first-innings innings. However Root and Lawrence crushed any hopes the house aspect might have had of creating deeper inroads into the England innings.

George Dobell is a senior correspondent at ESPNcricinfo

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