March 3, 2021

England in Sri Lanka: Joe Root’s 186 second Test keeps tourists’ hopes alive

Joe Root topped the list of England’s leading Test run scorers during his innings, ahead of Jeffrey Boycott, Kevin Pietersen and David Gower.
Second Test, empty (three in five days)
Sri Lanka 381 (139.3 overs): Matthews 110, Dickwella 92; Anderson 6-40
England 339-9 (114.2 overs): Route 186, Butler 55; Embultenia 7-132
England advanced by 42 runs
Score card

Joe Root scored a magnificent 186, but his dismissal in the final ball of the third day left Sri Lanka with a slight advantage in the second Test at Galle.

Root, who scored 228 in the first Test, was the best run-out in the short leg by Oshata Fernando, leaving England 339-9.

The England captain reduced Sri Lanka’s 42 to 132-4 to put the tourists back in the lead.

Left-arm spinner Lasith scored a significant 7-132 for the Embultenia hosts.

The 24-year-old, who played only his ninth Test, knocked out Dom Bess and Mark Wood in the final half-hour, ending strongly on a day dominated by the Sri Lankan root.

He scored 55 with right-hander Jose Butler and 81 for the seventh wicket with Bess.

Root’s innings – one of the highlights of his career – became England’s Test player after David Gower in 1985, following a double century with a score of over 150.

This prevented England from conceding a significant first-innings deficit, but, with him out, Sri Lanka could still get a useful lead in the second innings.

England lead the two-Test series 1-0.

Awesome test of balance

Root, who struggled with muscle cramps and stiffness throughout Sunday afternoon, had to drag himself off the field after he was ejected. He was four balls short of batting all day.

The 30-year-old Dilruwan clip a ball from Perera from his bar, but Fernando saw it brilliantly and then threw the stumps from close range, with Root coming short with a tired dive.

Thirty minutes earlier, Root was batting and Bess went well for his 32 runs. England reached four wickets as far as Sri Lanka was concerned.

The lead of the first innings seemed possible, but an entertaining Test was played again.

Embultania Bess was caught in the slip with a ball, while Wood played a ball slack-sweep and nicked the ball to the same fielder.

Jack Leach and James Anderson now face the task of getting England as close as possible to Sri Lanka’s 381.

Any lead can be important on the pitch, starting to return to spin bowlers.

The root grows big again

Without Root, England would still be in trouble. He has scored 415 runs in two Tests, half of England’s total of 836 runs.

The Yorkshire batsman started again with 67 runs, which he started at the end of the second day, batting positively but without risk.

The rest of England struggled to overcome Embuldenia, with Beastow and Lawrence the first two to suffer on the third day.

Burstow was caught in the gully for 28 runs from an inner edge through the bat, and Lawrence nicked one, which slipped three times, escaping an already missed stumping opportunity.

Alastair Cook 12,472
Graham Cooch 8,900
Alec Stewart 8,463
Joe Root 8,238
David Gower 8,231
Kevin Peterson 8,181
Jeffrey Ignore 8,114

In contrast, Rudd moved to 139 balls for his 19th Test century, before coming slowly into Butler’s company. Butler batted fluently and he hit a sweep for his opening and short leg arms.

Rudd returned to his detailed footage as his partnership with Bess increased. He hit four switch-hit sweeps reminiscent of his former teammate Kevin Pietersen.

It took over before giving Route 172 a serious chance, one edge to the left of the first seat, again from Embultania’s bowling.

He mostly played on the leg side and showed that he was a great spinner, the main characteristic of England going to India for the four-Test series after this match.

‘Sri Lanka clear favorites’ – reaction

England wicket-keeper-batsman Butler: “We are all amazed at what Joe Root has achieved now. He made a mistake in two days. It’s wonderful to see.

“Root is one of the best spin bowlers in the world. It’s a great strength for all of us in the dressing room, to learn from someone.”

Former England captain Michael Vaughan: “Sri Lanka are clear favorites in my mind with three wickets, but I think England deserve some praise.

“Two years ago it was probably a day when England collapsed and looked at the 150-run deficit barrel. They just hung up and deceived themselves.”

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