England steady in reply to Sri Lanka’s huge first-innings total
England reached 98/2 in reply to Sri Lanka’s huge first innings total of 381 on the second day of the second and final cricket Test being played at Galle on Saturday. After losing their openers for cheap, England were revived by an unbeaten 93-run stand for the third wicket between their captain Joe Root (67*) and number three batsman Jonny Bairstow (24*) as they trailed by another 283 runs in the first innings.
England are already in an unassailable position with 1-0 lead in the two-match cricket Test series, having won the opening Test at the same venue last week by a huge margin of seven wickets.
England needed their batsmen to step up after their bowlers failed to put up an impressive show at the same venue in the first match. Sri Lanka opener Lahiru Thirimanne scored 43 whereas strong contributions from Angelo Mathews (110), Dinesh Chandimal (52), wicketkeeper-batsman Niroshan Dickwella (92) as well as off-spinner Dilruwan Perera (67) post to Sri Lanka to a huge first-innings total—something which they lacked in the first Test in which they went down fighting.
Neither of the England spinners—Dominic Bess nor Jack Leach—could have any impact on the Sri Lankan batsmen as the comeback pace spearhead James Anderson took his second five-wicket haul at this venue, returning with figures of 29-13-40-6, whereas the right-arm fast bowler Mark Wood really bent down his back to take 3/84 in his 28 overs.
The visiting team openers Zak Crawley and Dominic Sibley produced a poor a show once again as they were both dismissed by left-arm Sri Lanka bowler spinner Lasith Embuldeniya, for 5 and 0 respectively. While Crawley was caught by Thirimanne at the first slip, Sibley once again missed a straight one which crashed into his pads, trapping him leg-before after facing as many as 14 balls without any run.
This was when Root and Bairstow got together as they pushed England again with some aggressive batting, taking the attack to the opposition. Root, who scored an incredible double hundred in the first Test, reached 67 not out from 77 balls with 10 hits to the boundary whereas Bairstow was happy playing the second fiddle, reaching 24 not out from 65 balls with four boundaries when the stumps were drawn.