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Day 2, report: Joe Root reached an unbeaten 67 to put England back on course after they lost their openers cheaply in the second test against Sri Lanka on Saturday.
England finished on 98 for two at stumps on day two, still 283 runs behind Sri Lanka.
Lasith Embuldeniya, who took the new ball from the City End, accounted for both openers. Root joined Yorkshire teammate Jonny Bairstow with the side in trouble at five for two and counterattacked, adding an unfinished 93 runs for the third wicket.
Root, the English captain who posted a double hundred in the first test, was unbeaten on 67 off 77 balls with 10 fours while Bairstow was on 24.
Root was the more dominant partner of the two England batsmen, using the sweep shot to good effect — both the conventional and reverse.
Sri Lanka know how crucial Root’s wicket is and they unsuccessfully reviewed a leg before wicket shout with the batsman on 39.
Earlier, Sri Lanka did well to post 381 runs having batted for five sessions.
They lost centurion Angelo Mathews (110) and debutant Ramesh Mendis (0) in the first 15 minutes of the morning. But a determined Niroshan Dickwella scored a career-best 92 to help Sri Lanka recover.
Dickwella had been under pressure coming into this game after a string of low scores, but this effort should silence his critics.
“Unfortunate to miss my hundred — bit frustrated,” Dickwella said at stumps."I got a fair amount of runs for the team. I spoke with support staff and asked them how I should adjust myself when building an innings. Glad it worked well. I should thank the captain and selectors for backing me for not having a hundred after 40 test matches.”
Dickwella said there is “more responsibility” batting at number six.
“Today, Angelo was out early and I wanted to hang around and make the most,” he said. “Compared to the last game, this wicket has bit more pace and bounce as well. The last wicket was bit slower. The odd ball turns and we should dismiss them cheaply and get a decent lead.”
Dickwella was involved in an 89-run stand with Dilruwan Perera for the seventh wicket and deserved a maiden hundred but crafty James Anderson dismissed him eight runs short of the milestone.
Anderson set up Dickwella having placed two extra-covers and a wide mid-off and Dickwella took the bait, driving uppishly and was well caught by Jack Leach at wide mid-off. That gave the Lancastrian a five wicket haul — the 30th time he had done so in test match cricket.
Three balls later, Suranga Lakmal was caught at gully by Zak Crawley for no score to give Anderson his best figures in Asia.
The 38-year-old Anderson, playing his 157th test match, was on the money rarely bowling a loose ball. He finished with six for 40. Of his 29 overs 13 were maidens.
“I have worked really hard on my fitness over the last few months," he said. “The lockdown has helped. I don’t see why I can’t improve as I am getting older. The more work you put in, you get the rewards. That’s how I felt in the last couple of days.”
Anderson said they did well to keep Sri Lanka under 400 runs.
“We have to bat big now and bat long time to win this game," he said. "We have got a decent start. The pitch is going to deteriorate and if we are to win, we shouldn’t look at chasing too many in the fourth innings. That 73 we chased in the first game, it can look tricky if you lose a few wickets early.”
While Anderson was all about line and length, Mark Wood complemented him well with raw pace. He finished with three wickets with Sam Curran accounting for the last wicket of Dilruwan Perera.
Perera made a fighting 67 off 170 balls with eight fours and a six.
Spin bowlers dominate in Galle, but in Sri Lanka’s first innings all wickets were shared by the three fast bowlers. It is the first time it has happened at this ground.
With inputs from AP
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