Sam Curran punishes defensive Sri Lanka with late blitz
A wonderful half-century from Sam Curran in the later part of England’s innings after Jos Buttler’s entertaining half-century steered England to a comfortable 1st innings score of 285 before Sri Lanka finished day 01 of the 2ndTest on 26/1 at the Pallekele International Cricket Stadium today.
English Test skipper Joe Root called it correct again as he won the toss and elected to bat first. Sri Lanka had to make 2 forced changes as domestic superstars, Roshen Silva and Malinda Pushpakumara replaced injured Dinesh Chandimal and retired Rangana Herath.
Rory Burns and Keaton Jennings opening the batting for the unchanged English team, were separated in 4.3 overs as Sri Lanka’s stand-in captain Suranga Lakmal produced a beauty to get rid of Keaton Jennings, who scored an unbeaten 146* in the 1st Test, for 1 run. Jennings was caught behind by wicket keeper Niroshan Dickwella.
England’s new number 03 batsman, all-rounder Ben Stokes played impressively for his 27-ball innings worth of 19 runs. Sri Lanka then successfully challenged the umpire’s decision to dismissed Stokes LBW in the 14th over bowled by Dilruwan Perera.
Following the 37-run partnership between Stokes and opener Burns, Joe Root added 14 runs for his 21-run partnership with Burns. Pushpakumara announcing his comeback went through Root’s pads to dismiss him, bowled.
Rory Burns just continued to frustrate the Sri Lankan bowlers as he scored 43 runs off 81 deliveries with 5 boundaries. Burns fell to Akila Dananjaya in his very first over giving a low catch to Dhananjaya de Silva at slip.
Since the fall of Burns as the 4th wicket with England’s score on 89, Jos Buttler just took on the Sri Lankan spinners hitting 5 fours in the space of 12 balls. He in fact hit Akila Dananjaya for 3 consecutive boundaries in his 2nd over.
Having taken the edge over Sri Lanka in the 1st session, England didn’t start the middle session well as Moeen Ali was trapped in front for a Pushpakumara arm-ball. Sri Lanka once again used a review successfully after the appeal was turned down by the umpire. Ali scored just 10 runs.
Buttler who looked very entertaining and clever throughout his 67-ball knock fell prey to the very shot he successfully scored 51 out of his 63 runs, the sweep. He was caught by Karunaratne off an unorthodox sweep of his, the reverse sweep before Ben Foakes threw away his wicket for 19 runs.
Man of the Match in the 1st Test, Foakes was given out caught behind trying to sweep Dilruwan Perera only to be found that he didn’t nick it. Unfortunately for Foakes he didn’t refer the umpire’s decision.
Since Buttler’s dismissal, 171/7, Adil Rashid and Sam Curran put on a threatening partnership of 45 runs for the 8th wicket as the duo took England’s score past 200.
The partnership was broken by Dilruwan just after tea as he dismissed Rashid LBW for 31 which included 2 boundaries and 1 six.https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GtArCUN1G10
Sam Curran then unleashed the power-hitter in him after the dismissal of Jack Leach, the 9th wicket, to bring his 3rd Test half-century. Together with James Anderson, Curran added 60 runs for the last wicket. The last wicket stand included 6 massive sixes off Curran’s bat.
Sri Lanka’s strategy during this stubborn partnership, which was incidentally the highest partnership of the innings, was very defensive and didn’t show even a glimpse of aggression.
The partnership was also aided with two dropped catches, one of James Anderson in his very second delivery, a difficult one for Diskwella, and the other of Sam Curran by Malinda Pushpakumara at long-on on 53, a lollipop catch.
Having given away 285 runs for England in the 1st innings the Sri Lankan openers, Kaushal Silva and Dimuth Karunaratne started cautiously scoring just 4 runs off the first 5 overs from Anderson and Curran. After seeing off the first 2 overs from Ali and Leach, Kaushal missed a peach from Leach to get bowled for 6.
Dimuth Karunaratne, however managed to see through the last few overs to stumps with night-watchman Malinda Pushpakumara. Sri Lanka will resume their 1st innings from 26/1 tomorrow.