Galle: A brilliant double century by captain Joe Root put England in command of the first test but Sri Lanka began a spirited fight-back to close day three on 156/2 in their second innings, trailing the visitors by 130 runs, here on Saturday.
Opener Lahiru Thirimanne anchored the Sri Lanka innings with an unbeaten 76 and will resume on Sunday morning with nightwatchman Lasith Embuldeniya, who has yet to score.
After getting bowled for paltry 135 in their first innings, Sri Lanka improved their performance as they are chasing England's first innings total of 421.
Earlier in the morning session, England resumed the Day 3 on 320/4, boasting a lead of 185. However, they encountered a relentless Sri Lankan attack this morning, and they were able to add just 101 runs to their overnight total.
A lot of that came from Root and Buttler, who extended their overnight partnership to 68, with Root becoming the seventh England batsman to score 8000 Test runs en route.The slide began when Buttler was dismissed by Asitha Fernando. Soon, Root completed his fourth Test double-century – his second against Sri Lanka, having scored one against them in 2014 at Lord’s.However, the four of the next five batsmen were dismissed for single digits as England lost their last six wickets for 49 runs.
England still had a huge lead over Sri Lanka, and would have hoped to repeat their efforts in the first innings. However, this time around, the hosts were a different force.
Their openers, Kusal Perera and Lahiru Thirimanne, added 101 runs for the opening wicket, with Kusal doing the attacking from one end even as Thirimanne sealed up the other. They ensured they didn’t lose a wicket in the second session, and put on as many as 90 runs by tea.
They brought up the 100 mark shortly into the final session, before Kusal gave his wicket away, attempting a waft at a short and wide delivery off Curran.
From there on, Kusal Mendis partnered Thirimanne in a more attritional partnership. They put on 54 runs off 135 balls, and looked good to help Sri Lanka get through the day without losing another wicket. However, late in the day, Leach had his man, drawing Mendis forward and finding a thin edge through to the ‘keeper.Despite that setback, Sri Lanka could draw encouragement from a good day, although England still hold the advantage.(UNI)