In what was another attritional day’s play at the Galle International Stadium, Sri Lanka managed to put England under some visible pressure for the first time before skipper Joe Root came up with another talismanic act with the bat. Sri Lanka resumed the day at 229 for 4 but it did not take Anderson too long to remove the centurion Angelo Mathews
Mathews, who stood unbeaten at 107, added only three more runs to his overnight score before an leg before appeal – which was later adjudged a catch – off Anderson’s first over of the day led to his end. While the visitors appealed for LBW, the third umpire found a spike on the UltraEdge as the ball moved past Mathews’ bat, leading him to be declared caught behind by Buttler.
Dickwella-Perera swell up the Sri Lankan lead
On debut, Ramesh Mendis gave the much-needed respite to Mark Wood, who rather ludicrously described his struggle for a breakthrough yesterday. It was a credit to Jos Buttler, who threw himself to his left, diving a good stretch to grab the delivery that Mendis had touched off Wood, to be dismissed for a duck. Niroshan Dickwella, who marched on with his steely defense on day one, looked far more positive as he played with freedom and opened his arms against Sam Curran and Mark Wood.
Resuming after Lunch, Dickwella and Dilruwan Perera went ahead with their crucial stand that lasted 173 deliveries, fetching 89 runs. After thoroughly frustrating the opponents with his grit, Dickwella fell short only 8 short of his elusive century as he drove Anderson straight to Leach at mid-off. With the dismissal, the masterful Anderson picked his second fifer at Galle and surpassed the legendary Glenn McGrath’s 29 Test fifers.
Despite Dickwella’s loss, the hunger of runs for the number 8 batsman Perera did not die and he added another crucial 32 runs with Lasith Embuldeniya for the 10th wicket, before his 170-ball knock that had 8 fours and a six, was finally cut short at 67 by Sam Curran. Before Perera’s fall – he was the final wicket – Anderson managed to swell his tally to a six-for when Suranga Lakmal chased a delivery outside his off stump, only to edge it to Crawley in the gully.
England’s jittery start before Root’s fifty
After dismissing the hosts to 381, England was welcomed by Lasith Embuldeniya, who dismissed both the English openers for the third time in as many innings in the series. Coming after scores of 4 and 2 in the first Test, Dom Sibley even failed to open his account this time as he was pinned LBW by the left-arm spinner.
Only a run was added to England’s tally when Embuldeniya struck again with a classic left-arm spinner’s dismissal, this time to undo Zak Crawley, who edged one to Thirimanne to register his third consecutive single-digit score of the series.
In all sorts of trouble at 5 for 2, England was in dire need of a partnership, and it was once again their heroes from the first Test (read Root and Bairstow), who joined hands to drag their team out of Embuldeniya’s trap. Playing spin to perfection apart from making use of the crease, both the batsmen put on an unbeaten 93 from 137, on the course of which Root reached to 50th half-century.
While Bairstow soaked himself in and defended well, Root rebuked the spinners, sweeping and cutting them after judging their lengths with ease. At the close of the play, he stood not out at 67 from 77, alongside Bairstow, who has faced 65 balls for his 24.
— Hemant (@hemantbuch) January 23, 2021
— Wisden (@WisdenCricket) January 23, 2021
But no one in Australia is broadcasting them…. pic.twitter.com/hOCzRXQFvH
— Chloe-Amanda Bailey (@ChloeAmandaB) January 23, 2021
— England's Barmy Army (@TheBarmyArmy) January 23, 2021
— Ben Gardner (@Ben_Wisden) January 23, 2021
James Anderson's stats:
▪ 29 overs
▪ 13 maidens
▪ 40 runs
▪ 6 wickets
👏 Fair play.
— Test Match Special (@bbctms) January 23, 2021
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