GALLE: Joe Root became the first England batsman to score over 150 in consecutive Tests in 16 years as he tormented Sri Lanka and led his side to 339 for nine in their first innings at the close of play on day three of the second and final Test in Galle on Sunday.

However, the tired and cramping England captain was dismissed in the final over of the day for 186, run out after clipping the ball to short leg Oshada Fernando.

Root’s weariness saw him struggle to get back into his crease having pushed forward after playing the stroke.

England still trail by 42 runs and will seek to wipe out the deficit with Jack Leach and James Anderson at the crease on the fourth morning, although Sri Lanka left-arm spinner Lasith Embuldeniya has been excellent with career best figures of 7-132.

Root followed up his 228 in the first Test to match the feat of Marcus Trescothick, who scored 194 and 151 in consecutive Tests against Bangladesh in 2005.

His innings was again built around the impressive use of the sweep shot, which he has waged to take the attack to the Sri Lanka bowlers.

“It was an amazing innings,” Root’s team-mate Jos Buttler told reporters. “To back up his double hundred in the first Test was a challenge both physically and mentally, and it has been a masterclass in batting against spin.

“It’s a great education for all of us. Not just the tactical and technical aspects, but also the concentration to apply himself for so long. There were some amazing shots that show the confidence and skill level. He even played a late cut left-handed today. Everybody can learn a lot from watching Joe play spin.”

The tourists resumed the day on 98 for two having lost their openers cheaply for the third time in as many innings in the series.

Jonny Bairstow never looked settled and fell on 28, an inside edge onto his pad off the dangerous Embuldeniya looping to Fernando at short leg.

Dan Lawrence was impressive on his debut in England’s seven-wicket win in the first test but made just three as he edged Embuldeniya to Lahiru Thirimanne at slip.

At 132 for four, England were teetering, but Root and Buttler (55) put on a fifth-wicket stand of 97 before the latter tried a reverse sweep that went straight into his boot and bounced to short leg, providing a first Test wicket for debutant spinner Ramesh Mendis.

Sam Curran (13) was out in the final over of the afternoon session, caught at slip, before Dom Bess (32) put on a vital 81 with Root for the seventh wicket.

Bess and Mark Wood (1) were both also caught at slip by Thirimanne off Embuldeniya, the first time a Sri Lanka fielder had taken five catches in an innings.

Scoreboard

SRI LANKA (1st Innings) 381 (A.D. Mathews 110, N. Dickwella 92, M.D.K. Perera 67, L.D. Chandimal 52, H.D.R.L. Thirimanne 43; J.M. Anderson 6-40, M.A. Wood 3-84).

ENGLAND (1st Innings, overnight 98-2):

Z. Crawley c Thirimanne b Embuldeniya 5

D.P. Sibley lbw b Embuldeniya 0

J.M. Bairstow c O. Fernando b Embuldeniya 28

J.E. Root run out 186

D.W. Lawrence c Thirimanne b Embuldeniya 3

J. Buttler c O. Fernando b Mendis 55

S.M. Curran c Thirimanne b Embuldeniya 13

D.M. Bess c Thirimanne b Embuldeniya 32

M.A. Wood c Thirimanne b Embuldeniya 1

M.J. Leach not out 0

EXTRAS (B-8, LB-3, NB-5) 16

TOTAL (for nine wkts, 114.2 overs) 339

FALL OF WKTS: 1-4, 2-5, 3-116, 4-132, 5-229, 6-252, 7-333, 8-337, 9-339.

TO BAT: J.M. Anderson.

BOWLING (to-date): Lakmal 16-7-31-0; Embuldeniya 41-6-132-7 (4nb); A.M. Fernando

10-2-31-0; M.K.D. Perera 31.2-3-86-0 (1nb); Mendis 16-1-48-1.

Published in Dawn, January 25th, 2021

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