England find themselves in an advantageous position at the end of third day’s play of the second test match between Sri Lanka and England at the Pallekele International Stadium. Day 2 of the test ended with Sri Lanka getting bundled out for 336 in their first innings, thus taking a lead of 46 runs.
England surprised everyone at the start of the third day’s play. They sent Jack Leach to open their batting innings along with Rory Burns. But trick didn’t work for the visitors as Leach was dismissed by Dilruwan Perera in the third over for only 1 run. Keaton Jennings joined Burns in the middle and both the batsmen didn’t allow the Sri Lankan spinners to dominate. Both of them looked to be aggressive and scored at a good rate. Burns, in particular, played some lovely strokes. The 77 run stand was broken by Akila Dhananjaya when Jennings failed to a mistimed reverse sweep.
Burns got to his maiden test fifty soon after. Malinda Pushpakumara dismissed the dangerous Burns for 59 as Sri Lankan bowlers looked to apply the stopping brakes. And it was double joy for the hosts. Dhananjaya picked up Ben Stokes for a nought in the next over to reduce England to 109-4. Joe Root and Jos Buttler made sure that no more wickets fell before tea.
Both of them added 72 runs for the fifth wicket before Dhananjaya cleaned up Buttler. Root, despite losing partners at the other end, looked solid in his batting technique. He was keeping the scorecard tick for the Three Lions. Moeen Ali was the sixth batsman to be dismissed as England found themselves lingering at 219-6. Ben Foakes provided the much-needed support to Root. Root scored at an impressive rate as the Yorkshire born batsman reached a well deserved century. Root was even more impressive after completing his hundred. He looked to accelerate the run rate.
But it was Dhananjaya again who got the breakthrough for Chandimal’s men. He picked up two wickets in two balls to send Joe Root and Sam Curran back to the pavilion. Adil Rashid became Dhananjaya’s sixth scalp as the ninth wicket fell down for 305 runs. Ben Foakes rose to the occasion once again. He kept the strike at both the ends to help England take as big a lead as possible. He smashed a six of Perera’s bowling to bring up his 1st test half-century. Bad light brought an end to the third day. England are 278 runs ahead with one wicket remaining.
Chasing anything above 250 in this pitch looks difficult. England have three spinners who have a knack of picking of important wickets at the most crucial moments. Sri Lanka would have to play out of their skin to have a chance to save the test.
England 1st innings: 290-10(75.4 o.)
Sam Curran: 64
Jos Buttler: 63
Dilruwan Perera: 24.4-5-61-4
Sri Lanka 1st innings: 336-10(103 o.)
Roshen Silva: 85
Dimuth Karunaratne: 63
Jack Leach: 29-5-70-3
England 2nd innings: 324-9(76 o.)
Joe Root: 124
Rory Burns: 59
Akila Dhananjaya: 23-0-106-6