Galle: England were 98/2 at stumps, trailing Sri Lanka by 283 runs on second day of the second and final Test at Galle International Stadium, here on Saturday.
After bowling Sri Lanka out for 381, England lost their openers Zak Crawley and Dom Sibley cheaply, but captain Joe Root (67*) and Jonny Bairstow (24*) helped revive the innings with an unbeaten 93-run stand to leave the match evenly poised.
Resuming on their overnight 229/4, the day had begun poorly for Sri Lanka, as they lost overnight centurion Angelo Mathews for 110 - just three runs more than his overnight score.
Mathews was caught behind off Anderson, although it needed a review from England. When Ramesh Mendis, the debutant, was dismissed for nought three overs later, there was worry among the home fans that their tendency to collapse was back.
However, it was then that Dilruwan Perera entered the contest. He displayed grit to keep England at bay, while Dickwella looked to score at the other end.
Their partnership lasted just over 30 overs, and in that time, they managed to negate any momentum England might have gathered with those early wickets. When their healthy 89 stand for the seventh wicket was broken, it came via a rash drive from Dickwella, who needed just eight runs more for his maiden Test century.
He was caught at mid-off, having sent it straight to Jack Leach, and Anderson had his five-for, which saw him overtake Glenn McGrath among pacers with most five-wicket hauls.
After Dickwella departed, the sting was taken out of Sri Lanka. Suranga Lakmal fell for nought and while Lasith Embuldeniya attempted to grit it out, it wasn’t long before Sri Lanka were back in the dressing room, having posted 381.
For England, Jimmy Anderson returned a fine 6/40 - his 30th five-wicket haul in Test cricket - moving up to 606 career Test wickets.
In response, England’s opening worries continued. Embuldeniya had both the openers dismissed cheaply within the first seven overs. Dom Sibley was the first to fall, trapped in front for nought, before Zak Crawley, having scored a 24-ball five, fell to a sharp turn that kissed the edge of his bat.
However, Sri Lanka’s hopes of prolonging England’s suffering faded away when Bairstow and Root revived the innings. Their roles seemed reversed, however, with Bairstow assuming the role of the grafter, even as Root went on the aggressive.
The duo ensured the scoreboard was kept ticking - not for the first time this series - and by the time stumps were drawn, England were in a better position than Sri Lanka wanted them in. (UNI)