After being dropped by Shaminda Eranga on 11 and surviving a close LBW shout in the 62nd over of the day, Bairstow made Sri Lanka pay for their mistakes as he struck his third century of 2016 to take England to a respectable position of 279 for 6 at stumps on day one.
Bairstow (107*) and Chris Woakes (23*) added unbroken 52 runs for the 7th wicket to rebuild the England innings towards the end of day’s play and keep Sri Lankan bowlers at bay.
Earlier in the first session, after electing to bat first on a typical Lord’s surface which is full of runs, Cook and Alex Hales played in a carefree manner against the Lankan seamers by leaving out the good balls outside off stumps and punishing the bad deliveries which were angled onto their pads.
After adding 56 for the first wicket, Hales fell to spin for the fourth time of the series when he tried a big heave over mid-wicket against the spin of Herath and the ball took the outside edge and flew to first slip where Mathews completed the catch.
One-drop batsman Nick Compton’s career-ending poor form continued when he nicked a harmless delivery well outside the stumps to give an easy catch the keeper off Suranga Lakmal.
Just few minutes before lunch, Sri Lanka dismissed Root for 3, the most valued wicket. He got too far across to an angled delivery from Lakmal and Sri Lanka overturned umpire Rod Tucker’s “not out” on review. England had lost three for 15 in 40 balls in the second hour on the first session, much similar to their first Test top-order collapse.
After lunch, Pradeep clean bowled James Vince with a seaming delivery which the latter played down the wrong line and the hosts’ were 84 for 4 when Cook and Bairstow combined to put up a mini rescue mission.
When the score was on 102, Eranga spilled a straightforward chance of Bairstow at mid-wicket off Pradeep and the very next ball the English wicket-keeper whipped past mid-wicket for a boundary to add salt to the wounds.
Cook reached his first half-century of the series and was well-set for another hundred but five minutes before Tea, Pradeep struck again when the England captain was out for 85, lbw to a delivery angled in from around the wicket to end the 80-run stand for the 5th wicket.
Moeen Ali was the final wicket for Sri Lanka on day one as he was well-caught at first-slip by Mathews off Herath after stroking a well-calculated 25.
If Sri Lanka to stand a chance of winning the Test match and salvage lost pride, they need to take the remaining four wickets ASAP early morning on day two.